Drumbeat: January 6, 2012

The Peak Oil Crisis: Closing Out the Year

The peak oil story changed little last year. Global oil production hung in around 88 million barrels a day (b/d) despite the Libyan uprising which took nearly 1.6 million b/d out of production for several months. For much of last year global oil production was below consumption resulting in a gradual drawdown of world reserves. With OECD stockpiles of about 2.6 billion barrels, plus the new reserves being accumulated in China, a slight shortfall in production is not a problem for the time being.

Crude Oil Futures Head for Weekly Gain on U.S. Economy, Iranian Tensions

Oil headed for a weekly gain in New York on signs that the U.S. economic recovery is gaining momentum and concern that tensions with Iran may lead to a disruption in Middle East exports.

West Texas Intermediate futures have advanced 3.4 percent this week. Hiring in the U.S. probably accelerated in December for a second month, pointing to a strengthening labor market heading into 2012, economists said before a report today. The European Union is working to halt oil purchases from Iran, said Victoria Nuland, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman. European foreign ministers aim to announce harsher penalties on the Persian Gulf nation’s energy and banking industries at a meeting Jan. 30, according to EU spokesman Michael Mann.

Petroplus Closures to Boost Oil-Refining Profits

The closing of three Petroplus Holdings AG refineries in northwest Europe may increase first- quarter profits from processing crude as fuel supplies are curtailed.

What is behind Nigeria fuel protests?

The government is attempting to deregulate the oil sector in the country and believes subsidizing consumption of oil is a drain on public finances that will prove unsustainable in the long term. Many argue that the only people the subsidy benefited were fuel importers. The government says the move will save the Treasury more than 1 trillion naira ($6.13 billion) in 2012.

Reuben Abati, spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, told CNN the money saved from removing the subsidy will help to improve public amenities and build much-needed infrastructure in a country with poor roads, lack of power and non-functioning refineries.

Sinopec Says Ministry of Finance Raises Oil Windfall Tax Threshold to $55

China raised the threshold on a windfall tax paid by crude oil producers including PetroChina Co. and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (600028) in a move that analysts say may spur exploration of the nation’s energy resources.

Kazakhstan cancels vote in troubled oil town

ASTANA (Reuters) - Residents of a mutinous Kazakh oil town will be excluded from a parliamentary election this month due to a state of emergency imposed after the deadliest riots in the Central Asian state for decades, the Central Election Commission said on Friday.

Cyprus Can Be Reunified Before Natural Gas Exports to EU, Minister Says

Cyprus, the divided Mediterranean island that announced its first offshore gas find last week, said revenues will benefit Greek and Turkish Cypriots because reunification will be achieved before the fuel is shipped.

“Revenues are not envisaged to start accruing before a number of years pass because we need a number of years to develop the necessary infrastructure,” Praxoula Antoniadou, minister for commerce, industry and tourism, said in an interview in Nicosia. “Our vision is that the Cyprus problem will be solved much sooner, within months.”

Trading oil on Iran: untangling rhetoric from reality

LONDON (Reuters) - How does an oil trader play the market when Iran threatens to shut the Strait of Hormuz and strangle Middle East oil supplies?

"Buy!" some would say.

But "Sell!" could come from cooler heads, the grizzled veterans who can cut through the bellicose rhetoric and who remember the 1980s Gulf "tanker war" in the Iran-Iraq conflict.

Iran did not block the Strait then, nor during decades of tensions with the West.

"There's a lot of rhetoric," said Rob Montefusco, trader at Sucden Financial. "Some people who have been around a long time are saying 'we've seen it all before', so they are using the recent price spikes as an opportunity to sell."

Iran plans more war games in strait as sanctions bite

(Reuters) - Iran announced plans on Friday for new military exercises in the world's most important oil shipping lane, the latest in weeks of bellicose gestures towards the West as new sanctions threaten Tehran's oil exports.

Asian Refiners Seek Iran Oil Alternatives

Refiners in Asia, the destination for 65 percent of Iran’s oil exports, are seeking alternative sources of crude in the event of a supply disruption from the world’s fourth-largest producer.

Japan to Express Concerns to U.S. Over Possible Iranian Oil Ban

Foreign Minister Koichi Gemba “expressed our concerns to the U.S. government in December, including our worries about the impact of a possible import ban on the Japanese and global economy,” Fujimura told reporters in Tokyo today. “We are maintaining that position.”

EU governments consider delay on any Iran oil ban

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A European Union embargo on Iranian crude oil imports could take a few months to come into effect because of a push by some EU capitals for a delay that they say is necessary to shield their debt-stricken economies, EU diplomats said on Friday.

Europeans paddle in troubled waters

This week, as the European Union inches closer to imposing a total oil embargo on Iran, thus escalating tensions to dangerous new levels, it is important to scrutinize the causes of what is rapidly turning into a major international crisis with unforeseen consequences, and to ponder the potential option of alternative Western policies that would prevent yet another crisis of choice, rather than necessity.

New sanctions on Iran pose problem for India's crude oil payments

NEW DELHI: India may face problems in making payments for crude oil it buys from Iran because of recent moves by the US to curb Tehran's nuclear programme, a top government official said today.

Iran accused of diplomacy offensive in US backyard

IRAN is quietly seeking to expand its ties with Latin America in what US officials and regional experts say is an effort to circumvent economic sanctions and gain access to much-needed markets and raw materials.

Want to Put Iran Out of Business? Here's How

If you want bloodless regime change in Iran, then do one thing: drop the price of oil to $25/barrel. Yes, it's entirely possible.

Italy Last for Potential Libya Oil Concessions

Libya’s new leaders will remember who provided the most help in overthrowing Muammar Qaddafi when it comes to new oil concessions. Italy, the biggest investor in the country, may find itself at a disadvantage.

Libya has the world’s ninth-largest proved reserves of oil, estimated at more than 46 billion barrels, according to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook. Much of the oil is prized for its high, low-sulfur quality.

Libya opens door to UAE oil companies

UAE oil and gas companies are positioning themselves for a move into Libya, encouraged by assurances that they will receive preferential treatment as payback for the Government's support of anti-Qaddafi forces during last year's civil war.

25 dead in Syrian 'terrorist' blast, state media says

(CNN) -- A suicide bomber blew himself up in the heart of the Syrian capital Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 46 others, Syrian state media reported.

The incident took place in the al-Midan quarter of Damascus. Casualties included mostly civilians and some law enforcement personnel, the Syrian Arab News Agency said.

Witnesses: Blasts strike Iraq's Army Day parade in Baghdad

Baghdad (CNN) -- At least three explosions struck Friday near Baghdad's Green Zone, where a parade to mark Iraq's Army Day was taking place, witnesses said.

Tepco to Boost Capacity of Natural-Gas Power Plant Near Tokyo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) will expand the capacity of gas turbines at its Chiba power station near Tokyo as part of measures to make up for the loss of atomic power following the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

A Shale-Fuelled Economic Miracle for 2012

Amidst the doom and gloom headlines presaging dire prognostications for the Western economies in 2012 there is the very real promise of a global economy re-directing miracle in the making. The impact and promise of shale gas and shale oil is probably the good news story as we step into 2012. Not that you would know it, given the media’s predilection for bad news.

Fidel Castro says world marching into abyss with shale gas

(Reuters) - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said on Thursday the world was on an "inexorable march toward the abyss," which he blamed in part on the discovery and exploitation of vast reserves of so-called "shale gas" around the world.

Pennsylvania Fracking Site Gets U.S. Scrutiny After Complaints

Water from wells in a Pennsylvania town near a gas-drilling site that used hydraulic fracturing will be collected and sampled by U.S. regulators after residents complained, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

Exxon’s Shale Driller Tightens Drug Testing for Rig Workers

Union Drilling Inc., the rig owner hired by Exxon Mobil Corp. to explore U.S. shale rock formations for natural gas, toughened drug testing of rig workers in an attempt to cut down on accidents.

Why "But We Walked On the Moon!" Doesn't Mean What They Think It Does

Going to the moon was impressive, but it wasn't a case of taking an extant need, determining to fill it, and doing so rapidly and in response that need. Instead, it was about creating a need and moving a sideshow (the space race) to the center of things (this is, of course, normative in politics and always has been). It was an important sideshow for any number of historical reasons but not in any way parallel to facing a national crisis and engendering a technological response that prevents disaster. Indeed, it involved us acknowledging, with the case of the space station, that time was inadequate to complete many desired projects.

Daniel Yergin: A perilous and crucial quest

The author and policy advisor on peak oil, shale gas and how climate change will impact where people get their energy from

Why Rising Debt Will Lead to $10,000 Gold

These events gave me the confidence to title my new book $10,000 Gold. The book connects the many trends that will be directly and indirectly responsible for both the rising debt and the rising gold price over the next five years. It will be published this year.

To make matters worse, the irreversible macro trends I discussed in last year’s Empire Club speech are still very much in place today. These include the added costs of retiring baby boomers, systemic unemployment due to outsourcing of Western jobs through globalization and rising oil prices due to peak oil. These irreversible trends will increase unemployment, lower GDP, reduce tax revenues, increase deficits further and force governments to borrow even greater amounts.

Oil Prices: Moving to Red Alert

Peak oil is moving back fast as permitted dinner time talk - and even office time action on futures and options. And the reasons are multiple, well known, but heavily discounted until now. Through late 2011, many times, the IEA's chief economist Fatih Birol has outlined how radically the IEA sees the oil price outlook. Lost in the climate crisis talk however, the oil price message was often sidelined. Birol's agency in November said this: "If fossil fuel (energy) infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will lose for ever the chance to avoid dangerous climate change", but the oil price punch line came later. Birol has many times provided the IEA's estimate of how oil prices levered up through 2011, despite the European crisis, near-recession in the US, recession in Japan and falling growth in China and India.

Trying to beat the oil addiction

Her children. They’re the reason Karen Andreassen became involved in the Transition Town movement.

As the world faces diminishing oil reserves, an unstable climate and unpredictable food production, the Transition movement is a worldwide network of communities working to move away from dependency on oil and create a more sustainable future.

Truck sales revving despite high gas prices

Ford Motor, casting itself as a fuel-economy champ emphasizing small cars, nevertheless sold three trucks in December for every car. For all of 2011, the ratio was two trucks for every car. Overall, Ford truck sales were up and car sales were down despite new Fiesta and Focus fuel-sipping small cars.

Honda, likewise known for fuel-efficient small cars, reported that its Fit subcompact was the only car with improved sales in December and that its Insight hybrid hatchback almost disappeared from the December tallies, attracting just 690 buyers, a drop of 57.8%.

At the same time, sales of Honda's Pilot SUV and Odyssey family van both were strong.

GM recalls Volts to fix fire risk

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- General Motors is recalling the Chevrolet Volt to make changes that it says will help prevent fires from coolant leaks which may follow a severe side impact.

Weather 'doubles' UK wind farm output

Wind farms across the UK have seen their electricity output double as a result of the recent weather, industry body Scottish Renewables has claimed.

Illegal Fishermen 4, Enforcement 0

Even when suspected illegal fishermen are caught, penalties can be elusive, as two recent cases in Sierra Leone and Costa Rica show.

Water From Yosemite Is Still Cheap, for Now

The going rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is about $2,500 a month. That’s the same amount the city pays to use eight miles of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park as a reservoir.

The $30,000 annual fee was set by federal law in 1913 and has not been changed since. But now, as the federal government struggles with budget problems, a Central Valley congressman is pushing to increase the city’s Hetch Hetchy rent by a thousandfold, to $34 million a year.

A Coal-Fired Plant That Is Eager for U.S. Rules

BALTIMORE — As operators of coal-fired power plants around the country welcome a court-ordered delay on tighter pollution rules, the owner of a retrofitted plant here says that the rules cannot come too soon.

The company, Constellation Energy, says it is an issue of fairness. A little more than two years ago, it completed an $885 million installation that has vastly reduced emissions from two giant coal-burning units at its Brandon Shores plant here, within view of the city’s downtown office towers.

Depleted gas reservoirs can double as geologic carbon storage sites

(PhysOrg.com) -- A demonstration project on the southeastern tip of Australia has helped to verify that depleted natural gas reservoirs can be repurposed for geologic carbon sequestration, which is a climate change mitigation strategy that involves pumping CO2 deep underground for permanent storage.

Economist: Recycling and Hybrids Won’t Save the Planet But Here’s What Will

There's only one solution to climate change, warns Wagner. "Policy. That's what makes the difference."

Why investors need to act on climate change in 2012

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long described investors as aggregators of risk from climate change. It can be argued that if governments fail to act sufficiently then investors have to do so in order to protect their assets.

Maldives warns of climate refugees

The president of what could be the first country in the world lost to rising sea levels has urged Australia to prepare for a wave of climate refugees.

Russian gas takes new short cut to Germany.

The Nord Stream pipeline phase one is opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev:

Putin and Schroeder get Nord Stream pumping by launching first test flows.


The Nord Stream Pipeline is one of the biggest infrastructure projects today. The project has set new benchmarks for technical solutions and international collaboration..


The two Nord Stream Pipelines are built three pieces at a time to form a section. 


And pipeline one recently reached landfall:


It appears some of the gas will be used for backup generation for wind in Germany’s Incredible Green Power Revolution

Any chance this development has anything to do with taking 8GW of low-cost nuclear power offline? This is sure to guarantee additional demand for gas measured in $millions / day. A cynical take on this would be that they are knee-capping the competition using Fukushima as a pretext to lock-in plenty of business for Russian gas.

Probably more to do with the rapidly progressing energy revolution.

Germany just installed 3GW of Solar PV in the single month of December[1] and approximately 7.5 GW in 2011 in total. This brings the total PV capacity of Germany to somewhere close to 25 GW! More than all of the nuclear power plants together. Wind also continues to expand, although at a slower pace.

The federal State of Bavaria, an industrial heavy weight, now produces about 8% of its total electricity from PV, producing at times more electricity than it consumes. Saxony-Anhalt, one of the smaller federal states, now produces more than 50% of its annual electricity from wind[2].

This all needs quite a bit of balancing to deal with fluctuations, which is where gas fired planets can help until more permanent solutions of electricity storage can be developed.

[1] http://www.solarwirtschaft.de/presse-mediathek/pressemeldungen/pressemel...
[2] http://www.umweltbewusst-heizen.de/Investition/Windkraft/Deutschland/Bun...

This brings the total PV capacity of Germany to somewhere close to 25 GW! More than all of the nuclear power plants together.

A PV capacity of 25 GW equals perhaps 5 GW of nuclear, since the sun doesn't shine all the time. Germany had more than 20 GW nuclear before Fukushima. Other than that, I agree. Germany's wind and PV need massive amounts of natural gas for balancing.

A PV capacity of 25 GW equals perhaps 5 GW of nuclear, since the sun doesn't shine all the time.

Actually, it is even worse than that. According to the Wiki page for solar power in Germany, they finished 2011 with 23GW of solar, and an annual production of 18,000 GWh - or a capacity factor of a dismal 9%, and equal to a 24/7 operation of 2GW


Even allowing for half capacity for the 2011 additions to solar (of 5GW), the capacity factor is still just 10.4%

Now, the solar power is generated during the day, when it is needed most, but even so, clouds etc will mean it needs backup from something else, and the peak period goes into the early evening, when there is often no effective solar generation.

I guess that 23GW of solar +23GW of NG can displace the 20GW of nuclear, but that is a LOT of NG. No wonder they built that pipeline!

Of course, if they had put the solar panels in Spain, and built a transmission line across France (or used the existing ones) they would get close to double the electricity production from their panels. But still a small piece of their electric pie.

Indeed, it is still less energy produced than 5GW continuous production. Typically you can assume about 900 - 1000 kWh/kWp/a in Germany. The better locations get up to 1100kWh/kWp/a the worse ones go down to perhaps 700 - 800 kWh/kWp/a, but not too many panels get installed in those locations. Given there are 8760 hours per year, that results in a capacity factor of typically between 10.2% - 11.4% and can vary between 8% - 12.5%.

In places like California or Spain, I think you can get values of about 2000 kWh/kWp/a or a capacity factor of ~23%

Never-the-less, the grid needs to deal with the 25GW of power, although you won't ever quite get the full 25GW at any given time, as all panels will never deliver peak output at the same time, due to the install angle and different weather conditions. Total peak generated power is therefore about 70% - 80% installed capacity.

As peak power consumption varies between approximately 40GW in summer and 80GW in winter, this is still a rather substantial proportion of summer midday power that needs to be balanced and handled by the grid and other generating plants.

In places like California or Spain, I think you can get values of about 2000 kWh/kWp/a or a capacity factor of ~23%

2000 kWh / 1000 kW of PV is a bit generous - typical in California / Arizona is around 1500-1700 kWh / 1000 kW of PV with a good south facing install with minimal shading. But maybe I misunderstand what kWp/a is?

My system in San Diego does about 1500 kWh / year per 1000 W or about 17-18% capacity factor. Could be a bit better with some more optimization, but pretty close to as good as it's going to get.

I get about 18%, in N Cali. Very cloudfree summers, but usually cloudy/foggy winters. So your numbers sound about right.
Now there are sunnier locations, but not much population there, so they might be good places for large utility scale plants, but not for residential/commercial rooftops.

Of course, given the economic war of all against all that the EU seems to be asking for, putting the panels in Spain and relying on transmission across France might not be such a good idea. (And putting the panels in the Sahara would seem like courting blackmail and disaster.)

And still , they have a power source, however intermittent, that won't create a no-man's-land out of their ancestral homes if it gets hit by the wrong storm or has a 'bad day'.

We are wiser when we acknowledge failure modes.

News Flash! A catastrophic failure of the power plant resulted in the power company having to fill some divots in the pasture and pick up their rubbish. A cold shutdown is anticipated within a few hours. Environmentalists are monitoring for bits of carbon frp being raked into the hay. The government has failed to evacuate all citizens within 50 km of the disaster. So far there have been no reports of radiation sickness or birth defects...

Did it start a forest fire on a windy day?

And still , they have a power source, however intermittent, that won't create a no-man's-land out of their ancestral homes if it gets hit by the wrong storm or has a 'bad day'.

That's a bit like saying "still, the Hummer owner has a car that won't kill him in collisions". LCA-wise and YOLL-wise, PV is far, far worse.

"LCA-wise and YOLL-wise, PV is far, far worse."

Unsupported and unsupportable (as we've come to expect).

Don't kid yourself. This IS the conventional wisdom and the current results. Look here, for instance. If your defence is going to be "too old, new PV is better", then don't bother - find a few more current studies and present them.

It's nothing like that at all.

How's that house-search in Pripyat going?

R.I.P Belarus and Ukraine.

Well, Belarus and Ukraine clearly need a "Plan B" since trying to negotiate cheap rates on natural gas in return for allowing it to cross their territory to Germany will not work once the direct Russia-Germany pipeline is in operation.

Ukraine reportedly has twice the energy consumption per unit of GDP as Germany, so there would appear to be huge opportunities for energy conservation there. They are a net electricity exporter, so they have that to fall back on. Probably their biggest asset is the large amount of farmland they have, but their agricultural sector is from what I hear still state controlled, so its efficiency is very low. There would be big opportunities to step up agricultural production by making the farming industry more efficient (i.e. privatizing it on the Chinese model).

Belarus still has a mainly a state-controlled economy, so I think they're going to have a tough time of it if and when Russia jacks up their energy prices.

Maybe their is hope yet:

Elbonians to offer free trade agreement with Ukraine and Belarus.

Matt Mushalik from Australia has an interesting post up about Iran up on his blog. It is called Iran playing war games, but not in video arcades. It includes a lot of interesting graphs about Iranian oil production, consumption, and refining, and who is buying Iranian oil.

I have new posts up on Our Finite World, as well, which may or may not eventually make it over to The Oil Drum. The latest is Obstacles Facing US Wind Energy.

The previous one is Can we invest our way out of an energy shortfall?

Energy drop off seems a given to me, Gail. In the short to mid term, maybe we can invest enough to keep 'going' after a fashion. Still, over the long haul, either we reduce (population and energy use) the easy way, by agreement and assent, or the hard way, by nature's rules. Either way, some serious triage will be going on, and decisions about who gets what, and who decides, become more important.

The question is, will there be sufficient agreement on the value of dollars then to allow the wealthy their normal status at the head of the line? I think not, but I may be wrong. If I am wrong, then some sort of feudalism will be the new old order of the day.


As I show in Can we invest our way out of an energy shortfall?, we are not now able to replace our infrastructure, without resorting to ramping up borrowing. We are not going to be able to keep increasing borrowing, so will have a problem. We likely will have to make hard choices, and not replace some other infrastructure (like roads, or pipelines, or school building) if we ramp up investments in energy extraction or wind turbines. or solar panels.

As supply and demand for crude oil decline, we will not need as many pipelines and oil refineries. They will not be rebuilt.

Dammit, I gotta admit that remarks like that make me angry. Hard choices indeed! All we have to do is move some of our efforts, wealth, etc away from utterly frivolous or downright bad expensive stuff we are doing right now, and put it on the things that count, like education.

This nation is dying of gluttony and waste. Anyone with eyes can see that.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is ...
well, let's just say that no one listens to a lune who claims he is "seeing" things that nobody else can.

The only high EROEI type investment left which can be made in bulk is likely improving energy efficiency and lifestyle changes. The problem with this is that noone actually takes ownership of energy not consumed the same way so it isn't easy to spur investment in widespread non consumption because the incentives just aren't in the right place. I believe in many places you can still achieve in the order of 50-100* EROEI with some basic measures.

What I advocate is super simple- quit making junk and toys. put those resources into needed stuff. This does not require any new anything, just a shift of assets from one to the other. How? Isn't that what economists are supposed to think up for a living? What other are they paid for?

I do consider the trajectory of development over the past few years to have been extremely wasteful. If the world had seriously considered keeping our numbers stable 40 years ago in 1972 when many of the environmental and resource problems started cropping up, what would the world be like now? The population back then was just under 4B people, the problem is that leaders haven't been able to actually lead even if they wanted to and thus the world has developed almost in mirror to our own basic instincts.

Even the past decade where trillions of dollars were essentially frittered away doing effectively nothing productive in order to enrich a select few if only a mere fraction of that was diverted towards productive work the world would likely be in a much better position to face the coming decade. I suspect that economics really is the social science of the elite, more so than liberal arts and other social sciences are for the left wing people. The economists in question were/are merely serving their masters best interests and thus their masters best interests become the best interests of society from their perspective.

I have been looking forward to doing an EROEI Evaluation for 'Homebuilt Solar Heating' Collectors made from recycled materials.. not an easy calc, of course, but one meant merely to demonstrate that there are still some very HIGH EROEI Low-fruit out there for grabbing.

I just got about 24 Panes of Double-glazed Window Sash which were left over from some constr project, and with which I could make a number of collectors of various types.. and what with the surplus materials that are out there like this, the 'effective EROEI' for the individuals concerned, and on top of that, the Collective Advantage that this represents to society of such developments is extremely high, considering this is putting items in the Solid Waste Stream and even the Recycling Streams into the Energy Positive Column, where they would have been in the Debit column otherwise.. an added gain.

The Eval would have to just use a couple specific examples of this broad range of possible Collector Types.. to show where the advantages can be, and where the boundaries need to be understood, since they will be even more fluid and 'debatable' than with Off-the-shelf Renewable Energy Gear. But it seems pretty hard to argue that the Long-term potential uses for Copper, Aluminum, Glass and Mirrors, to name a few, and in particular materials like these that have already served their primary purpose, and have so ostensibly 'paid off' much of their Energy Debt.. and should be valid to get counted as much closer to being Energy Neutral Materials when calculating their NET ENERGY in this Next Task in life.

I guess it'd probably be easier to just use money as a proxy for energy. If you follow what Rockman said about oil well economics the job he does would be uneconomical well before the EROEI fell to <3. You have to consider the value of the energy in the form delivered as well as the cost to deliver it, EROEI is a good tool for the latter but not the former but money is a good enough tool to judge both.

Does anyone else see a certain irony in using depleted gas reservoirs for carbon sequestration?


Carbon had already been safely sequestered there for millions of years. We let the genie out of that and many other bottles, and now we are trying to stuff whiffs of that genie back into his old bottle.

Don't get me wrong--ultimately we will have to do some kind of carbon sequestration to move us from the near 400ppm CO2 down to below 300ppm where it had been for thousands of years.

But the much more immediate imperative is to stop furiously UN-sequestering carbon (currently being done at a rate of some 9 billion tons C per year). Shoving a bit of CO2 back down the hole the C came from while still increasing the amount of C we are releasing into the atmosphere is just more evidence of the insanity of our current global industrial system.

I see no metaphor to adequately capture the lethal absurdity here, but I'll give it a try--while dosing our children with gallons of poison, we comforting ourselves with plans to do a bit of pin-prick blood letting to pull a tiny bit of the poison back out.

If anyone sees any realistic hope that we will collectively wake up and decide to voluntarily stop dosing our kids with vast quantities of GW poison (in fact upping the dose yearly), please clue me in. Short of that, my doom can do nothing but become ever deeper.

I thought about this some time ago - since most of the gas wells are being fracked today, how do they expect to keep the carbon dioxide down there ?

s-t: two important aspects. First, the fractures induced in the deep reservoirs have zero potential to leak THRU THE ROCK back to the surface. They could leak back up thru improperly abandoned wells though. But that's an irrlevent point anyway: the fractured shale reservoirs have no practical potential for injecting anything back into them: much too little injection volume available. The ideal reservoir is a nice think and porous conventional sandstome reservoir.

the fractures induced in the deep reservoirs have zero potential to leak THRU THE ROCK back to the surface.

Rockman: Doesn't the leak potential depend on the rock being sound to start with? If the caprock has cracks through and through, it seems that the gas/oil could seep upward. And, if the caprock is too thin, or has incomplete cracks, couldn't the fracking also crack the cap, thus allowing seepage?

Amy time I hear, "zero potential" I think of BP in the Gulf. I mean, what could go wrong?

Just asking.


zap - "Doesn't the leak potential depend on the rock being sound to start with?". Not the reservoir rock itself when it's many thousands of feet down. A long tech explanation: the short story is that the weight of the overlying rock (the overburden pressure) is so high at that depth it almost impossible to induce a fracture upwards as much as just 150' let alone to the surface (or fresh water aquifers) thousands of feet up. But breaking the sealing rock (cap rock is just one type) is easily done if you pressure the injected up high enough. But that's just the sealing rock which is still thousands of feet deep. An infamous case is just east of Houston: many years ago a NG storage reservoir leaked into the surrounding rocks. But didn't make it to the surface (had to abandon home due to NG leaking into them) through the rocks but thru improperly abandoned wells. As I said earlier that's the primary risk: leaking up well bores...not through the rock itself (unless it's being done very shallow...a couple of thousand feet or so).

"Any time I hear, "zero potential" I think of BP in the Gulf. I mean, what could go wrong?"

Amen, brother. In the entire history of drilling around the world there has never been a hole punched that had zero chance of blowing out. Even when there was "proof" there was no chance. A life time ago when I was a young buck at Mobil Oil they had to drill a replacement well in the middle of a field that had been producing for many years. Since they were drilling right between existing holes they knew positively there was no risk of blowing out in a shallow sand so they pushed hard without concern. And then the well blew out at 800' and burned 7 hands to death. During all those years of production, bad cement jobs in some of those wells allowed NG to seep up and charge that shallow sand where they knew positively there was "zero chance" of NG being present.

If I'm ever on location and hear one of my hands seriously say the well had "zero chance" of blowing out he would have his gear packed and be driving off location, for good, within 15 minutes. I'm, actually a fairly easy going manager but I have zero tolerance for stupidity/ego.


Thanks, Rockman. It helped to sort out my thinking on this. I suppose I could have asked my daughter and she could have found the same answer, but she's in NYC with the C&J Energy execs today, and not answering her phone. LOL.

I appreciate the clarity.


zap - You're welcome. I think the biggest problem folks have in thinking about frac propagation is that they can only relate to surface conditions: they imagine hitting a brittle rock with a hammer and it shattering. At the depths of many of the fracs discussed the overburden pressure is 10,000 - 15,000 psi. Imagine two slabs of rock pressed together with a 10,000 psi force. Imagine trying to pump water between the two in order to push them apart. That's why it's not uncommon to have 500,000+ horse power pumps on a frac job. And that typically fractures the rock 100' vertically...if they're lucky. And even if by some God-given miracle they extended a frac up many thousands of feet as soon as they turned the pumps off the overburden pressure would close the fracture back together.

I suspect that's the problem many folks have with a lot of technical issues: they try to go with their intuition. But it's obviously difficult to do when you have never had a first hand view of a situation. I've never been 12,000' below the surface of the earth and seen a frac propagated first hand. But I've seen enough plots to develop that correct intuition.

I was going to say the same thing as Rockman - there is zero potential for CO2 to leak through the cap rock. First, since it has held natural gas for millions of years, there can't be any fractures in the cap. Second, none of the wells would be fractured because, if you have to fracture wells to get them to produce, the formation is unsuitable for carbon dioxide sequestration. You want a nice, porous sandstone or carbonate reservoir that will produce with no stimulation whatsoever. Third, they would test the reservoir for leakage, anyway, before they started injecting CO2 into it.

This is not new technology. Several of the old gas plants I used to work at have since been converted to natural gas storage facilities. The reservoir is empty, just fill it up with gas all summer, and then produce the stored gas all winter. Repeat annually.

Any time I hear, "zero potential" I think of BP in the Gulf. I mean, what could go wrong?

As the people who work on offshore drilling platforms know, there is always a non-zero potential for things to go seriously wrong. They tend to lay awake at night worrying about all the horrible things that could happen. For a lot of them the stress gets to be too much and they take up a safer line of work.

There is a potential for a well blowout at one of these CO2 storage facilities but, it's much safer than a natural gas well blowout. CO2 doesn't burn, so their biggest concern is getting asphyxiated. They don't have a raging fire to control before the guys in the oxygen masks put a new cap on the well, which they will do in a short period of time. CO2 is not an environmental toxin because all it does is make the plants grow better.

But, point not made in the article, the best thing you can do with CO2 is inject it into an old oil field to improve the oil recovery rate. Sure, the CO2 gets produced with the oil, but then you just reinject it to produce more oil. At the end of it all, you abandon the oil field with the CO2 still in it. If it leaks out very slowly over the next million years, who cares, certainly not our far distant descendants because they'll probably be more concerned with stopping the next ice age than global warming....

Thanks RMG. Between you, Ron and Rockman, I know who to ask when I have a question!


"Short of that, my doom can do nothing but become ever deeper."

Yeah. Read the comments on Economist: Recycling and Hybrids Won’t Save the Planet But Here’s What Will.

Seems a lot of folks think carbon sequestration is crazy..

Speaking of crazy, he lost me right at, "Slowing the earth's rotation". Global warming is not likely to have enough effect on earth's rotation enough for anybody to measure. The moon is slowing the Earth's rotation through tidal friction, but that's been going on since the moon was formed, and I don't think it's cause for immediate concern.

He didn't say anything about the moon, but he did talk about taxing plastic bags. It may save some petroleum, or more likely natural gas, but it was thoroughly irrelevant to the topic which purportedly was being discussed.

The guys an economist....

Nitpicking, but melting high lattitude ice and transporting it to the oceans, which (areawise) are closer to the equator will increase the planets rotational moment, decreasing the rotation period. In terms of longer days -byt some tiny tiny fraction of a second it is not a big deal, but is does effect the distribution of sea surface heights, so that effect is modeled and is nontrivial. Also the location of the rotational poles will change somewhat as the ice isn't uniformly distributed by longitude. Again the effect is modeled as it afects regional sea levels. Sea level rise won't be uniform worldwide, some places will see more than average and some less.

If we did tidal energy in a biggish way, we might double the rate the earth's angular momentum is being transported to the moon. But I think that is small/slow enough to not be a problem.

He lost me when me talked about "carbon footprint."

Believe me, people, I have zero concern about my carbon footprint. If you want to talk about carbon footprint, try convincing the CEO of McDonalds that a million restaurants is just fine, they don't need to create 2 million.

Try convincing billionaries that they have enough money.

Try convincing politicians to balance the budget. Try convincing central bankers to reign in fiat money. Try convincing the hoardes to stop breeding like rabbits.

Sorry, but I'm not the guilty party for just living my life. These environmentalists need to understand that.

Yes, now that I know the choices we have made as a society are causing a big problem I am going to stick my head in the sand and just blame everyone else.

CCS is just Big Coal and Big Oil spinning a tale so that they can stay on the ride for as long as possible. Worked for Big Tobacco!

A little reality from Smil...

Let us assume that we commit initially to sequestering just 20 percent of all CO2 emitted from fossil fuel combustion in 2010, or about a third of all releases from large stationary sources. After compressing the gas to a density similar to that of crude oil (800 kilograms per cubic meter) it would occupy about 8 billion cubic meters—meanwhile, global crude oil extraction in 2010 amounted to about 4 billion tonnes or (with average density of 850 kilograms per cubic meter) roughly 4.7 billion cubic meters.

This means that in order to sequester just a fifth of current CO2 emissions we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation-storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storage took generations to build.

The only reliable solution to excessive consumption is the reduction in the number of consumers.
Population reduction = Pollution reduction

So what if they can bury a tiny amount of CO2? It wasn't even scrubbed from a coal burning power station which could be the harder part of the exercise. Therefore economically viable CCS is still not proven. Just one coal burning power station in the area, Hazelwood, produces 14,000,000 tonnes a year of CO2. That's every year til it is retired in 2031. This experiment used a prime site to bury 65,000 tonnes of 'CO2 rich gas'. They don't say how much it cost per tonne of gas or if the site could hold thousands of times as much gas. The exercise proves little from a practical perspective.

As Rockman pointed out, this is a small pilot project to prove the feasibility of something the oil industry has been doing for 50 years. What's the point? We already know how to do this.

As an example, in the Weyburn-Midale Carbon Dioxide Project, which is a full scale carbon capture and storage project, about 8,000 tonnes per day of CO2 from the Dakota Gasification Company's coal gasification plant in North Dakota is being injected into the Weyburn and Midale oil fields in nearby Saskatchewan. The CO2 project adds about $30 million of gross revenue to the coal gasification plant's cash flow each year, and is expected to produce at least 220 million additional barrels oil from the two oil fields.

8,000 tonnes per day equals 2,920,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, so if you could find 10 oil fields like Weyburn and Midale in the vicinity of the aforementioned Hazelwood power station, you would have an economic way to get rid of all the CO2 from it. If you don't have the oil fields, then you have to find some non-oil bearing formations to inject the CO2 into, and you won't get any more oil out of them.

I'm kind of fond of the Weyburn-Midale project because I did some consulting on it, but in other parts of the world, while CCS would probably be feasible, it would involve an economic cost rather than an economic gain.

Re: A Coal-Fired Plant That Is Eager for U.S. Rules

Meanwhile, north of the border....

Ottawa backtracks on coal emissions

The federal government is offering the provinces a way to avoid tough new regulations that would eventually force power companies to shut down the country’s fleet of coal-fired power plants.

Environment Minister Peter Kent and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have privately indicated they are willing to provide flexibility in how new power-plant emissions rules are implemented, provincial and industry sources said Thursday. Mr. Kent is expected to release the final version of the long-promised regulations in the coming months.

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...

What a bunch of slimeballs.

[No] Cheers,

"A demonstration project on the southeastern tip of Australia has helped to verify that depleted natural gas reservoirs can be repurposed for geologic carbon sequestration....The Otway Project is run by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC), an Australian-led collaboration of universities and research organizations that includes Berkeley Lab scientists."

I'm all for research designed to deal with AGW. But we've been injecting (and cycling) lots of different gases in pressure depleted reservoirs in the Gulf Coast for more than 50 years. For a few hundred $'s they could have downloaded reports on a hundred such projects. I would think the grant money spent for this project might have been better directed to less established concepts.

Global economy could endure disaster for a week

"One week seems to be the maximum tolerance of the 'just-in-time' global economy," said the report by Chatham House, the London-based policy institute for international affairs.

The current fragile state of the world's economy leaves it particularly vulnerable to unforeseen shocks. Up to 30 percent of developed countries' gross domestic product could be directly threatened by crises, especially in the manufacturing and tourism sectors, according to the think-tank.


Climate change and water scarcity will only add to risks, putting even more pressure on infrastructure and resources.


The think-tank recommended various ways to improve responses from governments and businesses to extreme events.

It particularly highlighted social media networks as a useful "one-stop shop" for information in the event of a crisis. ...

From the link: "Industries - especially high-value manufacturing - may need to re-consider their just-in-time business model in an interdependent world," she added."

I'm not sure how to 'rethink' just-in-time. Like most of our streamlined and specialized systems, just-in-time has led to one off effects that are now integral to the whole system. Stockpiling/warehousing parts on any scale is long gone. The j-i-t system has allowed for planned obsolescence and specialization: few variants of a product share the same parts, few parts stay the same over production cycles, especially from year to year, few replacement parts are planned for in our throw-away consumption meme. Redundancy in manufacturing and facilities has fallen to competition and the bottom line. Most of these resilience factors are now expensive liabilities. Who wants to get stuck with a hundred thousand widgets that have no use?

The speed of technological change, and consumers' expectations of having the "latest and greatest now" are the enemies of resilience.

Thanks for that, VT

That makes three noteworthy studies from the UK recently:
1. UK Planning Institute's paper on PO, reviewed on Tuesday:

2. On Wed we had the CH study on the threat to Saudi exports (a warning which should have been headline news around the world):

3. Today's CH study on high-impact, low-probability (HILP) events:

Congratulations to those progressive thinkers in the UK.
All we need now is for them to put #2 & #3 together and conclude that PO is a high-impact, HIGH-probability event, in which case we might finally see PO make the priority list at DHS/FEMA and at Public Safety Canada.

'Shocks', what CH call HILP events, are by nature transitory events. They happen; then are over. This level of thinking seems to still dominate homeland resilience thinking, even if they are waking up to JIT creating long term consequences for short term events.

What they are not good at is a shock event continuing. It seems to be outside their workview. They just about get slow moving large scale 'new norm' events (like Climate Change), although even here it tends to highlight the failure of political short term thinking. They really don't get that the wheels can come off and stay off.

As such PO is seen in the same class as Climate Change, a slow we'll-deal-with-it-later event that can be ignored for short term this-bank-is-going-insolvent type events.

The level of education in system dynamics and feedback necessary to get the average 'arts educated' politician or civil servant to understand that class of event is comparable to getting people who haven't seen it to understand the difference between a wave and a tsunami. If you haven't seen it, you can't process it - you don't have the mental tools to do so.

On going shock events; fast and hard 'new norm' changes are black swan events to their thinking - and its not likely to change till they've seen one - when it's too late.

re. black swans/strategic shocks

A few years ago a very sensible war college (SSI) study examined the issue of unconventional strategic shocks.
Freier's paradigm was then applied to Peak Oil:

"Want to Put Iran Out of Business? Here's How"

Wow! That has to be / sarcon / from the get-go. Does he really think that any government could engineer a depression without creating chaos, and by the way without being deposed? Or that a depression can be turned on and off like the water in your home? Or even that creating a depression would have the impact he desires (and I suppose no other).

OTOH, I suppose that the depression might be coming any way, so... maybe Iran is doomed? As perhaps might we all be.

Best hopes for a 'good' depression.


I found some of the ideas quite creative ;-)

It's a cunning plan, but I do think that there's a slight flaw in it...

I think that the author comes from the Baldrick school of strategic thinking.

"Now Baldrick, if I have 3 beans, and I add one more bean, how many beans do I have?"

"Some beans."

"Honestly Baldrick, to you the Renaissance is just something that happened to other people."

Perhaps that article is not proposing, but rather predicting a possible future, in a tongue-in-cheek way? Essentially saying: why bother with sanctions and war, the coming inevitable depression is going to finish off the regime anyway.

I almost did not bother to read it- based on the headline. I'm glad I did read it now.

He sounds like he is channeling the Daniel Yergin that wrote, "The Prize" ( as opposed to the current pathetic, public version of 'denial' yergin).

I wonder what the professionals in the Financial-Military-Industrial complex have dreamed up... so many intelligence agencies, so many crises... so little time.

He does not mention President Obama losing the next election as U.S. unemployment soars above 30%.

I wonder what opportunity Russia would seize as their revenue from crude oil and natural gas diminish while the rest of the world is distracted. In 2008 they invaded a country. Russia might help Iran with loans and food shipments extending their longevity to several years. Let's see who blinks first.

I like the bit about needing Canada to continue to produce more petroleum at 1/4 the price. I know we're socialists up here but I'm not sure if the Running Dog Capitalist Oil companies would go for this.

Since most Canadian oil production now comes from the oil sands or hydraulic fracturing of old oil fields, I don't think a deep-discount rate of 1/4 the current price is going to work for the oil companies.

When oil prices hit $100/barrel they started to get enthusiastic, but if it fell very much the enthusiasm would fade badly, and at $25/barrel their executives would be looking for new opportunities at McDonald's. The fast food counter, not the executive offices.

I don't think a deep-discount rate of 1/4 the current price is going to work for the oil companies.

With government guns pointing at their heads, they would be happy to comply...

Maybe the opportunities for ex-execs wouldn't be at the counter, but within the buns (recyling of material afterall).

With governments collecting royalties and taxes on all this oil sands production, they would be even less happy than the oil companies. Who else is going to pay for Canada's free medicare and universal pension systems when the baby-boomers hit retirement age and all need hip replacements?

The employment insurance payouts would be a budget killer, too. Canadian governments have been through this before and knows how bad it gets.

Weird stat (and graphic) of the day: U.S. oil production fell for 8 straight years under Bush, but has risen for 3 straight years under Obama:

The Oilman in the White House

Why? Does Obama deserve credit for this? I am certain this will be a campaign issue.

Well, WAG mind you, it takes time for projects to move from design to finish. Those that began under W have culminated in producing wells under O?

Just as, IMO, GHW Bush's tax hikes were responsible for the recover and boom of the 90's (nothing Clinton did could have had immediate impact); and, W's unfunded wars are the major impactor of today's sovereign debt crisis; and, the New Deal gave rise to the post war boom (the war was a distraction, but not the major economic impactor), particularly the labor laws. In each case, it seems that it takes time for those policies and plans to bear fruit, for good or for bad.

I agree, though... someone will use 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' arguments to urge that Obama is the brilliant author of our oil boom.

Frankly, the real reason is that oil has become more expensive, and that makes it profitable to use high cost extraction methods needed to expand production. So the stat is not that wierd.


I agree, though... someone will use 'post hoc, ergo propter hoc' arguments to urge that Obama is the brilliant author of our oil boom.

Of course. That's politics. He will say "I invoked a 'use it or lose it' provision that forced these oil companies to develop their leases or lose them." His handlers will argue "So you think it's just a timely coincidence that the very year Obama took office is exactly when oil production turned around?"

Same thing happened with Carter though. He oversaw an expansion in oil production for the first time in many years after two Republican Administrations, but it was because he was in office when the Alaska Pipeline that they approved opened up.

All around the world recently voters are throwing out incumbents, whether left or right, blaming them, rightly or wrongly, for the current economic woes.

Given the time delay before policies show an impact, as in the comments below, this political tendency is even more absurd.

Given the time delay before policies show an impact, as in the comments below, this political tendency is even more absurd.

Yes. It can set up a destructive dynamic. Many things that will help longterm have an intial cost, so the expected result is cost-benefit-benefit. Only the politician fears only cost will be attributed to him, and the benefits will be to whoever comes after, not unlikely a member of the enemy party. So why make the investment? And in reverse, there's the party policy, for which the relevant emotions are party-hangover-hangover. Why not take credit for the party, and let he who comes next take the blame for the hangover?

Why? Does Obama deserve credit for this?

Why, does a president deserve credit/blame for entering office when the economic is about to boom/tank? Its mostly luck of the draw. And Obama had terrible luck/timing wrt. the little depression, so he gets some good luck wrt. to the domestic oil production cycle. It is unfortunate voters don't analyse and compare what was going to happen anyway to determine if an office holder is helping/hurting. But, it seems to be the way things go.

i would think a real "oilman" (as in the cartoonish, cigar smoking, capitalist executive type) wouldn't want higher production. i would think he'd want to control his production and his YOY projections/deliveries based on what the market would yeild.

either way, we'll burn it all. and then....

First off, it only seems fair that if the Republicans are going to blame Obama for our bad economy. He should get credit for the oil production increase.

Second, back in 2001 to 2004 the oil companies knew about Bush's little Iraq invasion adventure and expected a flood of oil to hit the market to lower the price of oil. Nobody wasn't thinking $100 a barrel oil in 2003 and the investment wasn't there. Yes, you can blame the Bush Administration.

I'm putting this out since it is an example of how cities can deal with the post-peak oil era and the fact that the private automobile is going to become a non-viable means of transportation for the average family. This is one of the more realistic attempts to retrofit a semi-high density community into an existing urban area that I have seen. The city has a 60-year plan, and urban sprawl is not part of that plan.

Anti-sprawl development to the fore in Calgary

Calgary is looking ahead. Over the next 60 years, it expects to welcome another 1.3 million citizens – and Plan It Calgary should ensure the city’s growth is sustainable.

The new policy proposes a compact city that encourages walking, cycling and the use of public transit, and preserves open space, parks and other environmental amenities. Mayor Naheed Nenshi campaigned on an anti-sprawl platform in 2010, and is a proponent of Plan It's push for increased density as the city grows.

This development is intended to turn a defunct golf course surrounded by existing communities into a pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-friendly urban village.

In 2009, Geo-Energy purchased Shawnee Slopes golf course in Calgary's southwest. Until the golf course closed recently, Shawnee Slopes had been a hackers’ heaven for nearly 50 years.

The company has plans to turn the fairways into Shawnee Park, a community for about 3,500 people. Traditionally, housing development in Calgary has been “scrape and build”– developers would take bare prairie on the outskirts of town, build houses and plant trees. This was the way Calgary's sprawl was spread.

The golf course is 53 hectares (131 acres) in size, which is about the right size for a walkable community according to modern planning theory. At a brisk walk, it would take less than 10 minutes to walk from one side to the other, and most residents would need less than 5 minutes to walk from their homes to the retail center. This falls within standard criteria for a walkable village assuming the walking paths are laid out correctly. The density, with 3500 people in 53 ha is 66 people per ha or 26 people per acre, which is within the low end of the range needed to support efficient public transit. It would qualify as medium density rather than high density. As noted below, it is near an LRT station with quick access to downtown.

Shawnee Village, near one of Calgary’s LRT stations, will feature low-rise condos and apartments, along with the Village Square – a 50,000-square-foot retail area. The Grand Promenade is characterized by single family homes, clustered off principal arteries and paths in Shawnee Park. According to the developer's prospectus, the clusters will create “a kind of commons – open green space instead of individual yards – that is shared by neighbours.” Park's Edge, bordering on Calgary's famed Fish Creek Provincial Park, will have estate-style homes.

It says "famed" because Fish Creek Park is the largest urban park in Canada and one of the largest urban parks in the world. However, as usual in densification projects, the biggest hangup is the neighbors in the nearby low-density communities, who don't want to see their old golf course go away, or condos and apartments to be built on the site.

But not everyone agrees.

Neighbours of the golf course have protested the Shawnee Park plan, saying they don’t want to see it developed for housing because of the increased traffic and congestion those new neighbours will bring.

Tsur Somerville, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Real Estate Economics, isn't surprised at the controversy – as he puts it, “golfers, no matter how loud their clothing, are still quieter than neighbours.” The dispute, he says, is a classic urban development issue.

It's easy to appreciate the neighbours' response to the idea of losing a calm and serene environment next door, says Mr. Somerville, “but the government is under no obligation once something is zoned as recreational to keep it that way forever.

The nearby residents probably thought the golf course was safe from development when they bought their properties because there was a restrictive covenant on it - but the covenant expired in 1992. The golf course has since closed and the city has rezoned the land for urban development, so I think that, since the development fits its long range plans, the city will probably approve it.

Before the "transit will never work" and "it's all a socialist plot" people lurking here get started, note that Calgary is a rather conservative city and is the headquarters of most of the oil companies in Canada. However, unlike in a lot of conservative areas, it's not smart to go to an urban planning meeting and try to convince them that there's no such thing as peak oil. The oil men will realize right away that you are some kind of deluded non-expert.

According to one item posted above the line, individual actions don't count (enough) and policy is what will have to make the difference. Calgary is leading the way.

Best line in that article is:

"Global warming is not a belief. The great thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not."

Now someone needs to put those point forward in the Presidential debates (including, please, the Republican debates for the nomination). We do need to know where each candidate stands, and some real effort, ala Citizen's United, made to make such policies not only possible but urgent.


zap - "We do need to know where each candidate stands...". To be honest (and something of a negative Nancy) I'm not sure it's important for us to know where they stand on most important issues. To an uncomfortable degree I expect any of them to lean in whatever direction will get them elected. That may be along the lines of any position offered during the campaign but more likely as a coincidence than a promise kept. If the public is leaning strongly in the opposite direction I would expect the politician to modify his position (via some BS logic) to give the public majority what they want.

"The great thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not."

Funny - that struck me as a dumb statement. Science may be a process for discovering truth but is not truth itself. Most of the science I have worked on over the years turned out to be not true.

In fact there is one branch of scientific philosophy that states that science does not aim (or at least does not succeed) at truth and that we should not regard scientific theories as true but should only be regarded as useful descriptions of the world.

Saying that science is true whether you believe it or not seems like a faith statement.

I hate to disagree, especially when it may look like petifogging. There is a difference between saying something is true and saying that it is the truth.

"True" means that, if the premises are correct, then the conclusion of the argument is logically correct as well. Saying that science is true simply means that it uses valid argument, and subjects its premises and statements to rigorous testing. When a scientist says something is 'true,' she is saying that it has been tested and verified objectively.

Likewise, there is no scientific absolute! Even the most widely held 'laws of nature' are framed and discussed as theories, always being subject to falsification by facts. An interesting recent example is the experiment that seemed to show that positrons were going faster than light - theoritically impossible. So, they repeated the experiment. Same result, so there appears to be a discrepency in one of the most widely agreed upon theories in physics. Now the scientists are busy trying to figure out a new way to state the law that will agree with observations. Then they can test some more, and so forth. Always something new. Nothing absolute. Fun!

Of course, if your point is philosophical, then the question is about the nature of truth. Is there an objective truth? Is all truth relative? There are books written about that!

The point I would make, of course, is that whether it is a law of science or fact established by the scientific method, there is an underlying reality that subsumes belief. There are arguments amongst scientists in every discipline... yet none holds that a proposition is true simply because I believe it, and similarly, none holds that a proposition is not true because I do not believe it.

For a devote theist, that is a source of comfort since the existence of God, like the existence of truth, is not, by that argument, dependent on belief. Each either is or is not. No matter what you, I or even the Pope believes, reality trumps belief.



Excellent response - thank you.

I don't really disagree with what you just said - I think we are just talking from two different philosophical viewpoints. As I said "one branch of scientific philosophy states that science does not aim at truth but only useful descriptions."

But there is another branch of scientific philosophy that argues that science aims at truth and that we should always regard scientific theories as true, approximately true, or likely true.

I, for some reason, just happen to belong to the view that scientific theories are only useful, especially if they have great explanatory power. But useful is a powerful thing.


I noticed the individual action reference too. Not sure this behavior-versus-policy dichotomy is helpful. Sort of like arguing that it has to be nature or nurture that causes individual differences.

Isn’t a main purpose of policy to influence our behavior, as individuals or as part of groups and enterprises?

Granted, recycling and CFLs aren't going to save the planet, or any part of it (Cartoons). But try doing any good without individual behavior change, however motivated.


I think the difference was voluntary behavior changes by do-gooders, versus widespread behavior changes pushed by policy changes at the top. There are not enough do-gooders for the former to have much of an effect -other than as an example of non-impossibiliy.

There are not enough do-gooders...

True enough.

Of course, there’s no need to set do-gooding and policy-making at odds. We could reframe do-gooders as behavioral entrepreneurs, the early adopters. They can give the policy-making process a chance to hang back and see what works, what fits our culture, what’s effective before it tries to motivate that same behavior in the rest of us.

As Pat Murphy puts it, we need to “make a lot of mistakes quickly.” Maybe do-gooders could help pre-familiarize us with some things to pursue (and not pursue) in our rampart-to-rampart retreat?


Whenever "green" urban development is suggested, the question that comes to my mind is: what will the people living there do for a living? The naming of the development a "village" brings to mind the usual developers' sketches of cute boutiques and restaurants. No need to produce anything, we'll just sell non-essential trinkets to each other?

On a larger scale, New York City boasts how green it is, what with high usage of mass transit, etc - glossing over the fact that the economy of NYC is based on the financial "industry" which is only viable as long as they can skim the fat off of the worldwide ongoing raping of the planet.

Knowing Calgary as I do, I'm confident that most of the people will get on the conveniently available wind-powered light rail transit system and ride downtown, where they will spend the day for some giant, and the way things are trending, Chinese-controlled oil company finding some way to produce more oil for people who otherwise wouldn't have any way to get to work. Then they will ride back to their cozy home village, pick up a baguette and some meat or fish, and walk home to cook a nice meal and watch their giant, Chinese-built wide-screen TV.

It ain't New York City. And they're going to be skinning the fat off YOU, so you can drive to work. And if you don't like it, they'll sell the oil to China.

It worked for me for years, including the part about the wind-powered train and the giant, Chinese-controlled oil company (a consulting contract), and I'm sure it can work for other people. Actually, I didn't have the wide-screen TV. Still don't, in fact.

For those who are interested, here is some information on the concept of the "Urban Village":

Urban village

An urban village is an urban planning and urban design concept. It refers to an urban form typically characterized by:

  • Medium density development
  • Mixed use zoning
  • The provision of good public transit
  • An emphasis on urban design - particularly pedestrianization and public space

Urban villages are seen to provide an alternative to recent patterns of urban development in many cities, especially decentralization and urban sprawl. They are generally purported to:

  • Reduce car reliance and promote cycling, walking and transit use
  • Provide a high level of self containment (people working, recreating and living in the same area)
  • Help facilitate strong community institutions and interaction

The concept of urban villages was formally born in Britain in the late 1980s with the establishment of the Urban Villages Group (UVG). Following pressure from the UVG, the concept was prioritized in British national planning policy between 1997 and 1999.

From the Wikipedia article:

Many developments, although intended to create a true urban village form, have not achieved their objectives. Some planners question whether a genuine urban village has actually been built.

The objectives of urban villages are often criticized as unrealistic because they ignore broader social and economic realities. The ability to create self-contained villages is questionable as employment and activity patterns continue to become more complex. The viability of creating a variety of employment and activity within an area with a small population base can also be questioned

I find it interesting that Phoenix, AZ is listed as an urban village example...I went to the Wikipedia site on Phoenix, and there is a section stating that the city designated its area as a number of ubgan villages back in the '90s or so.

Anyone from (now or in the past) Phoenix wish to comment on this concept?

I think the urban village concept is more often promoted than achieved, particularly in the US where cities don't have the extensive public transit systems or higher densities that cities in Europe (or even Canada) have.

Looking at the example of Phoenix Arizona in the Wikipedia urban village article, I thought it was an odd choice of an example. So I went to the Phoenix Arizona - Cityscape article, picked one of their "urban villages", Ahwatukee, and found:

Ahwatukee is an L-shaped neighborhood of Phoenix, Arizona bordered on the north by South Mountain Park and Baseline Road, on the east by Interstate 10 and the cities of Chandler, Guadalupe, and Tempe, and on the south and west by the Gila River Indian Community. It is the southernmost of the city's 15 urban villages. As of 2010, the 35.8 square-mile (92.7 km²) neighborhood has a population of 77,249.

It doesn't sound much like a textbook urban village, more like a conventional subdivision. The size (35.8 square miles) is far to large to be walkable. The density with 77,249 people is about 3.6 people per acre, which is only slightly higher than Rockman's Woodlands development near Houston.

So, it's an urban village in name only. It is far too large to be walkable, and its population density is far too low to support decent public transit. There is supposed to be some kind of bus service, but the Wikipedia article didn't mention it. I doubt that many of the kids there walk to school, moms walk to the local store, or fathers take public transit to work.

The more prototypical urban village in the US would be Seaside, Florida

Seaside is an unincorporated master-planned community on the Florida panhandle in Walton County, between Panama City Beach and Destin. The town has become the topic of slide lectures in architectural schools and in housing-industry magazines, and is visited by design professionals from all over the United States. The town rose to global fame as being the main filming location of the movie The Truman Show.

New Urbanism - Seaside

Seaside, Florida, the first fully New Urbanist town, began development in 1981 on eighty acres (324,000 m²) of Florida Panhandle coastline. It was featured on the cover of the Atlantic Monthly in 1988, when only a few streets were completed, and has become internationally famous for its architecture, and the quality of its streets and public spaces.

Seaside is now a tourist destination and appeared in the movie The Truman Show. Lots sold for $15,000 in the early 1980s, and slightly over a decade later, the price had escalated to about $200,000. Today, most lots sell for more than a million dollars, and some houses top $5 million

That's more the size for an urban village, and it would be highly walkable, although the article doesn't mention public transit. The projected population of 2000 would give it a population density of 25/acre, which is high enough to support public transit - but then you need someplace to go that you couldn't walk to, and I don't think there's anything comparable near it.

However, the trouble with building a nice urban village like Seaside in the US is that you can sell the lots for $15,000, but then the highly affluent discover it, and bid prices up to over $1 million. It's not the intrinsic cost of these developments that makes living in them so expensive, it is the fact that everybody wants to live in them.

Beyond vtpeaknik's questions, I also wonder what the residential rents are going to be next door to those cute, boutiques and restaurants that offer obscenely pricy stuff no one really needs. As usual for articles gushing over what used to be called yuppie developments, such mundane considerations aren't mentioned, but presumably the hoi polloi need not apply. So, somewhere north of $2500/mo for a lousy 1-bedroom where you can't even get any sleep at night owing to the noisy restaurants, bars, and residential neighbors, as in San Francisco? Who will be able to afford that?

I think you're talking about a completely different city, i.e. San Francisco.

The cute, boutiques and restaurants that offer obscenely pricy stuff no one really needs are more likely to be downtown. This is in the middle-class suburbs, where the middle-class condo's sell for a middle class price, and most people can get a good nights sleep because the noisy restaurants and bars are elsewhere and if your neighbors are noisy, you call the police. Think Quiet... Urban... Village.

At least that is the concept. Otherwise wear earplugs.

And before we get into a debate equating walkability and public transit with dense urban cores, remember, this is a suburban densification project. (Calgary has internal suburbs rather than the external suburbs that most cities have. I can get into the details if you want.)

Although we apparently do get into a scaling issue. They can build one of these with little impact, but they'll be needing nearly 400 of them over time for those 1.3 million new people. So if they're not going to expand the urban boundary, the end result will be not so suburban and not so affordable; one might indeed expect prices to attain sky-high yuppie levels and beyond as in San Francisco, Vancouver B.C., or indeed any place else where one keeps piling in people with the boundaries frozen in place.

N.B. I take it that you mean by internal rather than external that, simply, the suburbs and city core are under the same municipal government instead of separate ones, which might make it harder for suburban areas to resist this sort of thing as most probably would in the USA?

They are talking about adding 1.3 million people over a period of 60 years. If you build small urban villages with an average of 3,500 people each, that means they need to build about 6 or 7 of them per year. Do you seriously believe that the real estate developers in a city with a million-plus population can't build 6 or 7 residential developments per year?

I don't think they said anything about not expanding the urban boundaries. That wasn't in the planning guidelines. However, if you add 1.3 million people at a Woodlands-type density of 3.4 per acre, it will require about 380,000 acres or 600 square miles. If you build 370 urban villages (at the rate of 6-7 per year) at a density of 27 people per acre, it will take about 48,000 acres or 75 square miles. That is the difference between rampant urban sprawl and a reasonable amount of urban expansion.

Yes, by internal suburbs I mean ones which are legally part of the central city, and by external suburbs I mean ones which are independent legal entities. Calgary managed to annex all its suburbs early in its existence, and then maintained a 50-year rolling inventory of land for urban growth, so it followed a different development path than most cities.

Rocky - We've had some comparable in the Houston area for 30 years: The Woodlands. a tad bigger than your village: 28,000 acres. It really is a city unto itself. Except it's not "in the city" . It's about 25 miles north of Houston. But they've overcome the distance by having their own commuter bus system that carries those folks who work in d/t Houston via a 60 mph express lane all the way. In fact, Anadarko Petroleum built and 15 story office building in The Woodlands and relocated the entire company.

I'm not sure "sustainable" is exactly correct but it is fully self-contained. A child could be born, grow up, work and eventually retire and never spend a day outsides The Woodlands. But a lot of their needs are still shipped in from some distance.

"The Woodlands was one of the nation’s first sustainable communities, with a current total of over 6,000 acres of green space protected in 121 parks, seven golf courses, and plentiful greenbelts and forest preserves. Plans call for over 8,000 acres of green space when The Woodlands’ master plan is complete. Trolleys and Waterway Cruisers are alternative modes of transportation within The Woodlands Town Center, the “downtown of The Woodlands.” Many other green initiatives have continued throughout the community’s history, making The Woodlands a model for sustainable development."

Fully self-contained? Where does their food come from?

I'm not saying that there will be no cities in the future, just that they will need to produce something tangible (like they used to), and that they are by definition not self-contained. They are part of a larger ecosystem.

Rockman, actually, I think I've been in the Woodlands because I used to fly into Houston quite often and drove all over the city - which is similar to driving all over New Jersey, which I've also done. I think metropolitan Houston and New Jersey are about the same size. At least it felt like it.

The fundamental difference is that the Woodlands has about 94,000 people (2010 census) and covers about 28,000 acres (your number), whereas Shawnee Park will have 3500 people and cover 131 acres. In other words, it's village size rather than city size. It is an exercise in urban densification in a developed area rather than building a new city on a greenfield site. Calgary tends to sprawl (although not as much as Houston), and the voters decided against continued urban sprawl, hence the new development rules.

The density of Shawnee Park will be about 27 people per acre, whereas that of the Woodlands is about 3.4 people per acre. The former is within the density range where public transit systems are viable, whereas the Woodlands is not even close. So, most people in the Woodlands will have to continue to drive everywhere, notwithstanding its claims to be sustainable.

The Shawnee Park development is not intended to be fully self-contained. Its objective is to be a walkable, bicycleable, transit-oriented urban village, and it looks like it should be able to achieve that. It is not a place where "a child could be born, grow up, work and eventually retire and never spend a day outside". They would have to go somewhere else to do most of those things, but at least they don't have to drive to do it.

The Woodlands is a perfect example of "Texas-style" sustainability (or maybe Florida-style); use only the most attractive community-centered New Urbanism strategies and window-dressing (literally facades, in some cases)without applying the actual urban planning part. 3.4 per acre is really all you need to know about this scam.

Thanks for conflating Houston and smart growth though, that was my second good laugh of the day.

Heels - Did you see where I said it was a good plan??? LOL. OTOH this is The Woodlands...not Houston. And can never be annexed by Houston as they've done to other suburban areas. Houston and its burgs started down that road to an unsustainable hell many years ago. Don't know how much better but The Woodlands will be a much nicer place to live than Houston when TSHTF IMHO.

Rocky - But that's the point. If the average trip by car in The Woodlands is just a few miles than the soccer moms will only have to fill up a time or two a month as opposed to a time or two a week. Doesn't eliminate the need for a car but also doesn't require spending many $millions on mass transit for an area thaty already has a complete roadway system already built and everyone owning car. It might not be as pedestrian friendly as your village but The Woodlands already exists. Your village doesn't. While it a nice idea but as your numbers indicate it would take about 4,300 such villages to relocate just 5% of the US population. If you have a cost for Shawnee what would 4,300 of them cost? And that would still leave 19 out of 20 Americans exactly where they are today. I'm not knocking the plan but Disneyland could be a very nice place to live also. Just don't think our economy could afford the effort on any significant scale. In fact, didn't you say Calgary was expecting a 1.3 milion bump in population. So it will need another 370 Shawnees...can they afford that many? And do they have another 500,000 acres (780 sq miles) available? of course, it would have been great had the US starting building Shawnee style 40 years ago. But it unfortunately it didn't and it seems unlikely it can do it now to any meaningful degree.

"They would have to go somewhere else to do most of those things, but at least they don't have to drive to do it." So Shawnee will be connected to the rest of Calgary via mass transit?

Start with there are too many people for the planet. We are not sustainable.

Then, consider that urban mom. drive to school in am, and back, just a few miles. so: 5 miles morning, 5 miles evening (drop off and pick up one child). If 2 kids, 2 schools, each at a different time (ask how I know that!) So. 20 miles to and from school. x 5 days a week = 100 miles just for school. Then, where is that soccer game? Ah... one week at the school (another 10 miles total). Next week an away game... that will be 10 miles coming, 10 miles going (you stay for the game to save gas). Once a week x 2 kids - another 40 miles. Now there is practice... every day? 3 days a week? Just to the school though.

What about groceries in suburbia. Can't carry them home, need the car. 3 miles to grocery store, 3 miles back. Need more than groceries, 5 miles there and 5 miles back (these are suburban averages, and having been in the Woodlands, probably less than there since TW is a very spread out place!). Music lessons, sleep overs, school supplies needed to be purchased (another store, of course)...

Oh, and where does Dad work? In Houston? Well, then, another trip every day, twice, to the Bus Station (or Dad drives the second car - we need 2 of them you know), probably 7 to 10 miles away. Weekend Golf? Well, unless you are on the course, you drive there as well. Date night? Drive night! I'd say you are filling up that SUV once a week anyway. And as gas prices go up, and wages go down, that SUV starts looking sort of hungry.

Thinking about a bike? During summer months in Texas, no way is Mom going shopping by bike. And during winter even the kids cannot bike... it is not THAT nice.

So, as nice as Woodlands is, it is still a suburb, and requires a car or two. And, as time goes on the number of grocery stores, shops and gas stations will drop, forcing longer and longer trips. Maybe as tax collections drop, schools have to combine for efficiency. Miles increase some more. One thing adds to another, and Dad loses his job in Woodlands, or even downtown. Now he needs the car to go to work elsewhere, where the buses don't go.

Not sustainable, Rockman. Sorry.


When I lived in rural AZ, there were far too many moms driving kids to school who could have been transported by school bus - the morning buses were often partially empty, yet almost everyone lived on or near bus routes. People might have to drive kids to meet a bus, but certainly didn't have to drive them all the way to the schools. To be fair, perhaps some moms were commuting to jobs and the local schools were on the way, but many kids were simply babied or their parents didn't want them to have to leave the house earlier or spend longer periods of time on the bus (mine did a majority of the time). I can imagine that some moms planned errands around these trips in the process, but just as many did not - they simply turned around and went home and did other trips later. It wasn't unusual in that area for many people to log 40-50k miles annually on their vehicles - many, many SUVs and large model pick-up trucks (I have a 1998 Nissan 4-cylinder truck with 250k miles). My annual average there was about 15-20k miles, now down to 5-7k a year in urban S. Cali. There are now lots of vacant homes in that area of AZ because not only are jobs hard to come by, but many people no longer willing to do those commutes. My life there started falling apart in 2007 and was intolerable by 2009 . . .

"So Shawnee will be connected to the rest of Calgary via mass transit?"

It depends on the Clintonian definition of "the rest of Calgary", LOL. It was said to be "near" (whatever that means) an LRT station with a train to downtown. So if downtown just so happens to be "the rest of Calgary" that you need/want to go to, and if you happen to need/want to go when the train actually runs, and if you happen to have time on your hands for the waiting and walking required to use an LRT, then you're in luck. Otherwise you'll drive. Or if driving is not an option, you'll be SOL in bus hell, or maybe stuck with a mind-numbing LRT trip all the way downtown, then all the way back out to where you really want to go - and rinse and repeat when you're ready to go home again.

Note BTW: the Parisian "solution" is to jam 1.8 million people into roughly 30 square miles - that makes it possible to get around moderately well on the somewhat interlinked RATP (Metro) lines, with a bit of assistance from the RER (suburban) here and there. OTOH if you're not highly affluent you may well be consigned to one of the peripheral (and very possibly crime-ridden) cités, and be condemned to getting around the region at essentially walking speed on a bus.

Well, I haven't actually paced it off, but looking at the transit maps, "near" the LRT station looks to be about a 10 to 15 minute walk for most residents.

There are already two bus routes running on the north and south borders of the proposed development to the LRT station on the east, and no point would be more than a 5 minute walk from a bus stop. Most likely when the community was built, the transit system would add a bus to run down the middle, too. The density is high enough to provide enough riders for it.

The LRT trains, according to the transit schedule, run about every 4 minutes during the morning and afternoon rush hours, every 10 minutes between rush hours, and every 15 minutes on Sundays and late at night. From the adjacent LRT station to downtown is about a 20 minute train ride.

The LRT system doesn't just run downtown, although that is its biggest use. It also connects to the University of Calgary, a technical college, a college of art, several major shopping centers, and a number of industrial parks. The feeder bus system connects the LRT riders to the rest of the city.

I haven't checked lately, but last time I did, Calgary had more buses than Houston, and Houston has 5 times as many people.

"Well, I haven't actually paced it off, but looking at the transit maps, 'near' the LRT station looks to be about a 10 to 15 minute walk for most residents."

Aye, and there's the rub. 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning of the trip, likely a similar 10 or 15 minutes at the end, more minutes waiting for the train unless it's rush hour, and we're up to a half-hour of making essentially no progress at all in our trip, and we haven't even counted the time riding (and grinding to a stop over and over again) on the train. Most Americans - and I suspect most Canadians - outside the most congested areas of the biggest megacities can probably drive most places they need to go on a day-to-day basis in less time than the half-hour, much less the full train-trip time. As a bonus they can go anywhere efficiently even when their destination just doesn't happen to be ideally located "near" a well-serviced transit route.

So there's essentially zero market for it, until maybe someday there suddenly is. Quite the conundrum for US politicians who might want to install transit lines, when few are likely to use them under current conditions. They tend to become known as trains to nowhere. I suppose that on a broader economic view, the conundrum lies in competition between two highly capital-intensive companies or industries. In such cases, one or the other typically becomes thoroughly entrenched (thus the fact that cars actually unseated incumbent transit lines might tell us something that we ought not to ignore about the relative utility of the two.)

You're pushing the "Business As Usual, we can't do anything else because it might hurt" line pretty hard considering we are approaching the time that those soccer moms who used to load the kids and equipment into the SUV to go the game are going to have to ride bicycles to get there. Odds are the kids won't be playing soccer, they'll be selling pencils on street corners to pay for fuel for Mom's SUV.

Okay, let's run through this for you since I did this for 25 years. You walk 10-15 minutes to get to the LRT station, the train arrives within 4 minutes (worst case), it takes 20 minutes to reach downtown, you walk 5 minutes (worst case) to the office. Total time (worst case) 44 minutes.

But look on the bright side - you got 20 minutes of aerobic exercise walking, and had 24 minutes to read the morning paper. Or, if you were an up-and-coming young executive, you ran for 10 minutes and got 24 minutes of business done on your iPhone before you reached work.

Alternatively, you could spend 44 minutes in your car (I forgot to mention that Calgary has no downtown freeways and screwed up planning its road system), honking at the other drivers and threatening to kill them (fortunately Calgarians unlike Houstonians are disarmed), get to work, pay a fortune for parking (another Calgary issue, no free parking), after which it takes another 30 minutes for you to calm down enough to actually do any work.

For many North Americans, because of urban sprawl and traffic congestion, they are having to undergo at least a 44 minute commute. The long distances to the far-flung suburbs, combined with the slow traffic because of the excessive numbers of cars overloading the freeway systems, has turned the once-short commute into a nightmare.

But the real issue is going to be the cost of the commute. If Americans were paying $8/gallon for gasoline, how much commuting could they afford to do? If it doubled to $16/gallon, how much could they afford then? This is the future, and BAU is going to become unaffordable for many people.

Most likely those Americans who still have jobs will retreat to the inner city and drive up housing prices to the point that only the executives and professionals will be able to afford it.

OTOH, the transit-connected urban village is something that the average middle-class person could afford to live in. There's no real reason why housing should be more expensive than in existing suburbs.

Rockman, the good thing about an infill development is that the transit is already in place (at least in Calgary).

Looking at the transit maps, there is already a bus route on the north side, a bus route on the south side, and an LRT station immediately to the east of the development. I would estimate that most residents would be less than 5 minutes walk from a bus stop or 15 minutes from the LRT station.

The bus frequency is a bit low - every 15 minutes on-peak, 30 minutes off-peak, 7 days per week, but odds are that if they build the development, they will have to increase the number of buses to handle more passengers. It would be efficient to add another bus route running right down the middle of the development to the LRT station, too.

The LRT trains run more or less continuously, every 4 minutes on peak, 10 minutes off peak, 22 hours per day. Calgary started building its LRT system about 30 years ago, and since then it has become the most heavily used light rail system in North America with over 250,000 riders per day.

That particular LRT route runs across Calgary from the far south to the northwest corner. It intersects downtown with the other LRT route, which will run form the northeast corner to the far west (the west leg will be finished before this development is finished.)

I don't know why this particular development would be more expensive than any other subdivision - in fact it might be cheaper because most of the infrastructure is already in place. The biggest cost would be in building the houses, and that depends mostly on square footage.

Calgary is looking ahead. Over the next 60 years, it expects to welcome another 1.3 million citizens – and Plan It Calgary should ensure the city’s growth is sustainable.

Growth to add 1.3 million people is not sustainable. Where are they going to get the energy, water, food, jobs, raw materials etc... for that many more people - Especially with the fact that the oil will be about run out by then.

Actually, I did point out to the planning people that if they added that many people, Calgary would become quite a big city, and if it continued to sprawl it would run into the Rocky Mountains. They looked blank. But that would make it the same size as metropolitan Vancouver, and I don't think the residents of Vancouver think their city is unsustainable. Awfully congested for cars perhaps, but fairly bicycleable and with a half-decent transit system.

Energy - Calgary is the center of the Canadian energy industry; Water - the city's two rivers can handle 1.3 million more people but past that point they may have to bring in water from other rivers; Raw materials - Western Canada has raw materials in vast quantities; Jobs - energy jobs are the name of the game, and as the rest of the world runs out of oil, the Canadian oil industry hires more people.

Not that I'm in favor it it growing that big, I left because it was already too big for me, but I think it will grow at least that much, if not more in the next half century. The fact is that as the rest of the world runs out of oil, Calgary will get more people because of the vast Canadian oil sands, which are not going to run out of oil in this century, or the next century. So I don't expect its growth to end anytime soon.

Given the state of the economy and provincial finances here in Ontario, I expect we are going to be the source of a lot of migrants to Alberta. I'd love to move there too, but we have too much family here.

It says "famed" because Fish Creek Park is the largest urban park in Canada and one of the largest urban parks in the world.

Forest Park in Portland, Oregon is significantly bigger. Forest Park is 20.92 sq km (8.08 sq mi) while Calgary's Fish Creek Park is 13.48 sq km (5.20 sq mi). A topo map of Forest Park (big PDF) shows the terrain and how it is situated in the heart of Portland. There are about 70 miles (110 km) of trails in Forest Park, and other trails connect to Washington Park, the Aboretum, and other parks. It is easily possible to start in the heart of downtown Portland, walk up to Washington Park and continue on to Forest Park, and (aside from crossing a few streets) be in woods virtually the entire way. During the years I lived in Portland I walked much of this trail system.

Calgary's sister city, Edmonton, has a parks system in our river valley (the North Saskatchewan) that, from Wikipedia, "At 7,400 ha (74 sq km) (18,000 acres) in size and 48 km (30 mi) in length, the river valley parks system consists of 22 ravines, which have a combined total length of 103 km (64 mi)." This must be one of the biggest urban parks systems in the world.


With all due respect, you know this is hogwash. If Calgary, or Alberta, was serious about sustainability, the first thing they would do is put caps on immigration and population growth, something which of course they can't do as this is determined from Ottawa.

Moreover, they want more workers so they can exploit the tar sands as quickly as possible, in order for a few well connected oil men to get obscenely rich.

The human drama never disappoints, even in "kind, communitarian" Canada. The country with the highest per capita immigration in the world. The country with one of the biggest real estate bubbles in the world. The country that is willing to stripmine itself to sell it's limited resources to the highest Chinese or American bidder.

Well, it wasn't supposed to work out this way. Peter Loughheed, premier of Alberta from 1971 to 1985, wanted the oil sands developed slowly to maximize the benefits for Albertans. The immigration rate started to decline in the 1970's but Brian Mulroney bumped it back up again when he became Prime Minister.

Back in the late 60s, National Petroleum of Canada set up a subsidiary, Permeator Corp, and they had all the leases on the oil sands. Whatever happened to them (other than some tie in with a stock run up)?


That's a completely different oil sands history than I remember.

What really happened was that during the 1960s, Sun Oil Company of Philadelphia set up a subsidiary, Great Canadian Oil Sands (GCOS), to start the first oil sands mine. It lost money for about the first 8 years of operations.

After the 1973 oil crisis, the Trudeau government created Petro-Canada as a state oil company, and transferred all the federal governments oil assets to it, including its 12% interest in Syncrude, the second oil sands mine. Then Petro-Canada started buying up foreign oil companies at vastly inflated prices that the government thought was reasonable since it was sure oil prices were going to skyrocket.

Instead, oil prices crashed, and the government lost billions on its investment. In the 1990s the government began selling its shares in Petro-Canada to the public, and by 2004 it had divested all of them. As a privatized company, Petro-Canada did better and by 2008 was the 2nd largest downstream oil company in Canada. However, it had a problem finding new oil, and couldn't afford to develop its oil sands leases.

Meanwhile, getting back to GCOS, once it became profitable, Sun Oil renamed it Suncor Energy, and sold all its shares to the Canadian public. The now Canadian company did well because of the steadily increasing output of its oil sands operations, and became the largest upstream oil company in Canada.

In 2009, Suncor bought Petro-Canada. The merged company is the second biggest company in Canada, with both huge oil sands production and a large retail operation. It operates its upstream assets under the Suncor name, and its retail chain under the Petro-Canada name.

And the federal government has divested itself of all its oil sands interests.

Yair...RMG...any figures available as to what percentage of your oilsands are controlled by foreign interests...including U.S. interests--I assume some 'States side money is right in there protecting "their" oil?

Oh, the tart taste of sour grapes.

No, immigration is not dictated by Ottawa, most of the push for more immigrants comes from Alberta businesses. The province is actually underpopulated and needs more workers to do all the work that needs to be done. It's a tough job keeping the US from freezing in the dark, but somebody has to do it.

The mayor of Calgary is Naheed Kurban Nenshi. Does that sound like someone who would be apposed to immigration? (Actually, he was born in Toronto and educated in Calgary, so he fits right in.)

Economic impact of immigration to Canada - Overview

According to Canada's Immigration Program, Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world... Canada is also unusual among western nations in the widespread popular support for high rates of immigration, and in recent years support for immigration has increased in Canada. All of Canada's major political parties support either sustaining or increasing the current level of immigration.

Jstew and a few others

re: liveability and Calgarian growth....relocation options

Westjet flies several times a day to Comox Vancouver Island. It transports commuting workers and vacationers from Alberta for the most part. The housing prices in the Courtenay/Comox area are pretty robust due to Calgarians buying vacation sites and eventual retirement homes.

There is a reason for that. When my son was an apprentice in Calgary I hopped on a jet for a visit. We toured around and I compared Calgary to what I remembered when I was an apprentice there back in the 70's. I was horrified at the change, found the new developments soul destroying. (Little burbs plunked down on the Trails (read freeways) and traffic traffic traffic. Downtown was very cool and the transit was great. Awesome little grills and old record shops, but I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Recently, some co-workers had to move to Fort Mac because the company wanted their husbands to be residents and not commute. (trades). So, they sold beautiful ocean view homes for OSB stapled up shacks on a 60 foot wide lot at 3X the price...for a job.

On another visit I wanted to head down to Pincher Creek and south because I also used to work out of Lethbridge. We angled down along the Rockies on the narrow two lane, except it was a traffic jam with psycho drivers passing on double solids. It wasn't good.

Anyway, if you are from Alberta and you love it...part of your blood, then great. I wish you well. But if you come from somewhere green, quiet, and can get by with your current pay cheque.....Calgary ain't for you. I have lived and worked from Atikokan on west to the extreme tip of Brooks Penn on Vancouver Island. Calgary would be my last choice to re-locate. It was go go go, noise noise noise, cost cost cost. I hated it.

Have a good look and make some long thought out decisions before relocating for employment. Yes, you have to go where the work is and I have done it my whole life, but sometimes it is better to stay put and scale down. The T-4 looks skimpy at tax time, and I always liked the bigger numbers on the gross earnings line, but now that I am in my fifties my life is much richer with 1/2 the income.

There are other ways to live than climbing on the debt escalator for the career title and company truck.

Plus, the whole experience (this life thingy) is short and finite. A job is just a job.

Yesterday I just got the results from a CT scan and I am cancer free. But after a big scare this summer and surgery my outlook is a little more focused. I plan to work more on our homestead lifestyle, fish more, do some gold panning this summer and generally scuffle out a living and stop and look around more. I regret my years of dedication to career, although I had to do it to pay the bills. But in the long run the whole job thing is hollow. "How thick does your steak need to be", we are often asked? I would commute for a job, but I sure wouldn't move from family and friends for one. I have done it in the past and it isn't worth it, IMHO. There are other options if you look for them.


Calgary is about three times the size it was when I moved there to go to University, about 45 years ago. Back then you could drive anywhere in town in about 15 minutes. It now is a major city with over 1 million people, and the freeway system is the advanced stages of collapse. Fortunately the LRT system works well and is capable of handling as many passengers as necessary.

Today, it's not a place for the unambitious. It has grown into a major head office and financial center, second in Canada only to Toronto. It's a place where deals are done and money changes hands.

As major head office centers go, it's not bad. It's one of the Economist Intelligence Unit's top 10 most livable cities, if I recall correctly. If the choice was Calgary or Toronto, I would pick Calgary. If the choice was Calgary or Houston (and actually, for me it was), I would pick Calgary.

If the choice was Calgary or Comox, and I had already made all the money I needed, I would pick Comox. It's much more relaxed and I know people living there. But, if I was a young, ambitious college grad like I was 42 years ago, I'm afraid I would have to pick Calgary.

When you're young, you have to pay your dues, like I remind the young whippersnappers. Nothing comes for free. When you're old and tired and have made all the money you need, then you can go for a quiet, unexciting, and economically marginal existence.

Just saw this article about predicted gas prices for 2012: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2012/01/forecast-2012-worst-year-fo...
The article itself says nothing particularly significant and completely avoids mentioning any reasons for the predicted rise in prices. The readers comments below the article are hilarious:

I read on another site that oil and gasoline are two of our best exports currently. Well that’s great, but let’s take care of our OWN first and then worry about everyone else later. Obama must be accountable.

What on earth could this guy be thinking?

I read a lot of comments on a lot of stories on the MSM sites (its like watching someone light themselves on fire...its hard to turn away).

Comments like those are what scare the heck out of me. These people are insane and dumb as rocks. It seems like no one can think for themselves anymore (or do anything for themselves anymore). We are in a heap of trouble and our leaders are corporate *&(ore idiots.

It seems like no one can think for themselves anymore

There never was a time when or where someone can think entirely on their own.

Our thinking is shaped by the culture in which we are raised from infancy.
Had you been born in another century, or another country, or to a family of different beliefs, etc, you would be a different person.

Rather than making ridicule here at TOD of most of our species mates, we should strive to understand why their eyes glaze over, why they don't listen, why they don't understand.

The solution might be that we have to focus our energies on the young people, the one's whose minds can still be molded.

The shame is that at the elite/expert level we have learned a great deal that could be applied to doing much much better. By that I mean we could all have a basic understanding of our cognitive weaknesses, and know a few tricks for minimizing their effects. But, we, as collective socities don't seem to have any interest in doing so. In fact powerful organizations are applying the knowledge to further their own narrowly focused agenda's.

I remember in grade school they forced us to memorize the names of the 4 chambers of the human heart and the functions they perform.

I don't remember ever being asked to memorize the names of the N chambers of the human brain.

Probably there are certain things they don't want students to know.


New cheap carbon capture material absorbs at room temperature, releases at 185 degrees F. The finding ought to fuel optimism in research as well as new rounds of funding. So there's hope: at least we can abolish global climate change in theory.

What would the unintended effects be?


Does not look like something we want to inject into the atmosphere at least. Not sure on the environmental impact from manufacturing the stuff, no matter how cheap. I will keep looking, but so far I am not sanguine that this is the magic bullet we want to 'cure' atmosphereic CO2 and end AGW.


"There Will Be Violence, Mark My Words"
By Michael Thomas, Newsweek
28 December 11


Well, hope springs eternal in the human breast.....

There will be violence... ???

It goes a long way in explaining why Americans appear to be such whipped dogs today. They're no different from the Germans of recent memory. For those who missed it, let me quote it:

"You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you...

But of course this isn't the way it happens.

In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C?"

Thanks Martin

Quite something!

It is the corruption, money-based, that has settled like some all-enveloping excremental mist on the landscape of our hopes, that has permeated every nook of any institution or being that has real influence on the way we live now.

"One of the intentions of corporate-controlled media is to instill in people a sense of disempowerment, of immobilization and paralysis. Its outcome is to turn you into good consumers. It is to keep people isolated, to feel that there is no possibility for social change."
David Barsamian, journalist and publisher

"Corporate Media's Threat to Democracy"

China raises the stakes:
Chinese airlines refuse to pay EU carbon tax

Airlines ponder legal challenge to carbon emissions scheme, while Chinese government may resort to 'retaliatory measures'. . .

If every country retaliated the global aviation industry would end up with a universal carbon tax.

You got to hand it to the EU! Maybe unilateral carbon taxes in a global industry can lead to universal carbon taxes for that industry. I can see how this could easily occur for aviation, I wonder if it would work for shipping?

If chinese airlines refuse to pay, then they don't fly to europe.

I assume the action of the chinese government will be tit-for-tat banning of european airlines.

End result is less flying as it becomes even more of a pain to flying anywhere. Which means more airlines going to the wall and generally higher prices as economies of scale unravel.

Thus the policy has the effect desired, and makes the world more resilient to the eventual necessities of a post peak world.


It's worse than that. The US Congress is contemplating legislation that would make it illegal for US airlines to pay the EU carbon tax. Russia, India, and Canada are also objecting to the carbon tax.

At the end of it all, if you want to get from the US to the EU, as a worst case you might have to fly to China and then take the Russian railroads to the EU. Trans-Siberian Express, here we come!

I wonder how long any business could remain active in China or the US if it refused to comply to local law.

I therefore very much hope the EU stays firm on their policy and if necessary bans any airlines that don't accept the law of the EU.

Given that the carbon permits currently only costs a few dollars for an intercontinental flight, probably less than the daily fluctuations of ticket prices anyway, the refusal to pay and threatening to start a trade war is rather ridiculous.

The Rise of Tricycle Pushcarts

(In rural México) I have noticed a discernible uptick in the number and variety of pushcarts. Here they are called tricyclos. These are ideal for food vendors or pedicabs which require frequent interactions with the scene on the street...

What struck me is that I cannot recall a time in the past decade that I have been observing these vendors when there were more of them.

Call it a sign of the times, but every few hours another passes by the front of my house, shouting out what he or she is selling.

In the morning its newspapers and fresh, hand-made tortillas. Around lunchtime is it fresh garden vegetables, epizote, bread and other kinds of unprepared food. There might be a tricycle for fruits and juices, another for tomatoes, onions and peppers, another for potatoes, beans and rice.

By late afternoons they may pass by with fresh sweetbreads, steaming hot tamales, or corn on the cob. A man with his tricycle grinding stone offers to sharpen machetes, knives, scissors, shovels, or any other sharp objects. ...

I have a feeling S. Cali will see way more pushcart activity soon. I'm seeing both ice cream and hot prepared food carts pushed and peddled around neighborhoods in N. Orange County where there formerly weren't any just 3-4 years ago. It wouldn't surprise me to start seeing a wider variety of goods vended this way.

Lots of them around here, have toyed with the idea of getting one, for cargo, too. I've even seen them used as taxis.. There are also a lot of vendors using wheelbarrows, some that have been quite tricked out like the sweets and nuts vendor. On one trip I passed one corner where a guy was selling Tamales out of his tricycle, the next corner was one selling flavoured water, the next corner someone was pushing a wheelbarrow with a WC in it!!! No, it wasn't for that use, well not there, but the coincidence caused a strong mental picture. I have recently seen someone with a new motor tricycle, I thought its label was 'Kawasaki' and 'King' but it appears not to be. I will try and spot him again and try to get a good look but the front end looked like a standard motorcycle while the back seemed to have a couple of seats and cargo space. Driver and passengers/cargo enclosed by a cab.


These carts sound like a great idea to me, but I strongly suspect that the existing brick and mortar business establishments in most cities and towns will manage to quit fighting each other long enough to get legislation passed outlawing such effective low cost competition.In a lot of places in Virginia, you can't sell a little produce out of the back of a pickup truck or alongside a road on your own property, and Virginia is a pretty conservative(liberal?) place in terms of lightly regulating most small businesses.

I can just imagine how pxxxxd I would be if I owned a McDonald's and somebody parked on the street nearby was selling better coffee and sandwiches cheaper.

The motor trike idea has me thinking-I'm a rolling stone sort of guy who is interested in everything, except staying put, and consequently I have worked a few years each at many different trades, and know several people who have built trikes-three wheeled vehicles legally registered and driven as motorcycles.All of the that I know about personally ones which were custom built I know of are big heavy machines with car engines and transmissions and rear wheels.Such a machine built out of an old Volkswagen will get fifty to sixty mpg and accelerate a LOT FASTER than the donor car due to lighter weight and less frontal area.

It occurs to me that I could build an enclosed small trike myself, starting with a small motorcycle, and that it would be a satisfactory way of getting around in cold weather or the rain, and that it could haul a considerable load-maybe as much as four or five hundred pounds of compact freight on good roads without steep hills.

I have a 250 Honda that will get around seventy mpg at open highway speeds.

It would probably still get that much converted into a heavier trike if I kept the speed down to forty or forty five mph.

Hauling a heavy load around would probably lead to engine overheating issues in hot weather unless the driver is very careful to watch the engine temperature, which would require fitting a gauge for that purpose..

The speed limit on most roads around here is 45 mph.The only real problem I foresee with such a small machine is that they are built to last only around twenty to thirty thousand miles and overhauling one is very tricky and expensive.The bigger bikes last a lot longer, but that would mostly defeat the purpose of building the little trike.

Some interesting thoughts there. We get a lot of VW conversions down here though they are mostly 4 wheel buggy types. Some of the chopper converters also make trike versions, we had one near us, in the UK, and one of theBaron Knights used to ride around town on one.

For your load moving machine, how about dropping the gears down a notch, you don't need the high speed end and more torque at the bottom may help keep engine speeds down and the engine cooler. Maybe add a cooling fan or 2, just some thoughts.


I made a platform, a cart, with the tri-star wheel design... long ago. It was amazing in that it would climb over curbs and go up and down stairs effortlessly and with great stability. An urban vendor's or homeless person's cart with such wheels would be a nice thing to have. No more struggling and spilled loads!


Interesting. Although I suspeck one large wheel spanning the diameter of your triplet would do pretty well also. At least for the illustrated hole-obstacle it wouldn't fall in very far....

Probably so...
But those are already some pretty big wheels.
Many vendor's carts use bicycle-sized tires, as I recall.
The tri-star does not make much of a "bump" when it goes over a curb.

Yep, pretty standard 26" like my MB.


Does anyone know how all twelve wheels were driven by the 427 Cu In engine?

Drive shaft to the front and back axles, then a complex gear in the middle of each tri-wheel, driving three little shafts to another 'right angle' gear inside o each wheel?

Sounds like a lot of gear grease and Mx to me...even changing tires would be quite the effort!

Reminds me of talking with a guy who cross=trained into the B-52H after being a tanker in the Army...he had lots of great stories about changing tracks and doing other field Mx on the M-1A....one of the reason he became a fly-boy!

Yes. Complicated.
Had a running conversation with a friend years ago about legs VS wheels in robotics. Turns out that really good wheeled designs wind-up being as complicated as legs.


Very cool!

This geared arrangement is simpler than what I was thinking...good luck to the competitors.

West readies oil plan in case of Iran crisis

Western powers this week readied a contingency plan to tap a record volume from emergency stockpiles to replace nearly all the Gulf oil that would be lost if Iran blocks the Strait of Hormuz, industry sources and diplomats told Reuters.

They said senior executives of the International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises 28 oil consuming countries, discussed Thursday an existing plan to release up to 14 million barrels per day (bpd) of government-owned oil stored in the United States, Europe, Japan and other importers.

Action on this scale would be more than five times the size of the biggest release in the agency's history -- made in response to Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

If the Gulf channel gets blocked, Saudi Arabia, the world's top exporter, can route more crude through the country's East-West pipeline system to the port of Yanbu on the Red Sea.

Altogether that network has effective capacity of some 4.5 million bpd and after supplying Saudi domestic refineries in Jeddah, Riyadh, Rabigh and Yanbu - there is about 3 million bpd of export capacity available, said an industry source.

The neighboring United Arab Emirates also has export flexibility. It is nearing completion of the Abu Dhabi crude oil pipeline, which will bypass the strait to ship as much as 1.5 million bpd to the Indian Ocean. ...

The maximum release, some 10 million bpd of crude and about 4 million bpd of refined products, could be sustained during the first month of any coordinated action, the plan says.

Could be sustained for the first month...

Better get whatever the Iranian's are planning to sink in the straits out within that timeline and cover any slack time till those shipments can be offloaded and refined, or we find out what it's like to live with $250-350 a barrel.

Imagine this scenario: it's 2 months into Operation Persian Freedom. Half the strategic reserve is gone. The remaining half is mostly hard-to-refine heavy crude. Someplace special in the desert somebody is equipped with a camel and a few pounds of plastic explosives (to use Kunstler's phrase). Hmmm, what did they say about the economy lasting one week?

Hmmm, what did they say about the economy lasting one week?

The margins are getting very thin.

"Western powers this week readied a contingency plan to tap a record volume from emergency stockpiles..."

Here in Canada the question would be, "What emergency stockpile?"
Our position is unique within the IEA: the eastern half of our population is dependent on overseas imports, yet we have no strategic reserve of either crude or furnace oil (USA has both). Plus we have great distances and severe winters (until recently, anyway... it's been very mild here in eastern Ontario).

Furthermore, we have no viable plan: as in the USA, our government plans for administering a major oil supply shock are either outdated & impractical or newer & very vague. The primary response tool in both countries will be "full price pass-through" which would certainly carry its own set of risks.


Stay in your home, keep calm; the government has everything under control.


I'm ready - Nissan LEAF and garage full of bikes.

If something major happens all the EV naysayers may finally appreciate the power of electric vehicles. Or maybe they'll just shout "Drill, baby, drill!" louder.

"in case of an oil crisis" with Iran.....Give Me A Break! The US Government will engineer an oil crisis with Iran....because it's the least bad option. Now the eurozone crisis threatens to become totally unfixable in a few months, shutting down sectors of the US economy....oh dear, what to do??? I know, let's have an oil crisis! Let's ask all the other countries to stop buying Iranian oil....actually, they have no choice but to follow orders since the US is still the only superpower in the world. Then let's wait for Iran to cause trouble, then we will have to invade it, oh well, then we are going to get our hands on that oil and pretend it was a complete accident. The Iranians will stop driving when that happens and so will people in a lot of other countries....but not in the good old US of A, no, not yet at least. Of course, as all this happens, you can be sure that US government officials will be saying "we must make sure markets are supplied" "We must make sure that countries around the world get enough oil to keep their economies running, that is why we are doing this!" Actually, they are concerned about their own economy and they are playing a desperate hand, one of their last, since the FRB can't make any difference anymore.

Good luck, bonne chance!! This is sign of impending decoupling, since the US is basically saying to other countries "we will decide who buys the oil and when, not you". The US has stopped caring, in other words, what happens economically abroad. Europe is finished, Japan is a radioactive cement wasteland, of course there are pockets of prosperity where the US cares and wants to sell stuff, but so what? If it has the oil and the agriculture, then what does it care if others are left hungry and cold. Of course, I am sure that small amounts of humanitarian aid will be sent over to places where people no longer drive or have food. Yes, to soothe the consciences of the rulers in the USA.

But these sorts of plans never turn out the way that they were intended...there are always unforeseen developments. Usually the entity that starts with a devious plan does not get the result that he or she expected.

Well we can only hope that this despicable military regime fails and financial collapse blunts its ability to further destabilise countries around the world for the benefit of the 1%.

Failure is 100% guaranteed, of course. But who knows how much suffering will occur on the way??

Europe is finished

I would say that is a gross exaggeration! One particularly spread by the US and the UK, driven by political interests and their large financial sector.

Although no doubt some of the countries, foremost Greece, are in deep trouble, a lot of the other European countries (e.g. the nordic countries, Austria, Switzerland, Germany) are still pretty well off and the EU remains the biggest economic block in the world. Furthermore, many of the European countries still have some of the fairest societies. So even though the rich are probably better off in the US, the average population likely isn't.

I wouldn't think finished gives the correct impression. Although the current Brussels based Euro project could be finished. Europe, as a bunch of relatively rich advanced countries won't vanish, but might go through a period of economic retrenchment. That happened to Russia a couple of decades back, and I don't think anyone would consider that country to have "vanished".

I think this whole bullying everyone else to bully Iran would be a good time for others to just say no! If only one or two countries say no (I can't imagine Russia or China will go along) then their busineses can be isolated and punished. But if enough of them do it, the US will have no choice but to accede to their wishes (or else isolate itself). England and France had their own time of national shock when they realized they just didn't have the power to impose their will (look up Suez crisis). The US will have its as well.

I think it would be better to deal with reality sooner.

Perhaps the President's plan to trim the military might be a(small) start.



I think your basic description of motive is completely wrong. This isn't being driven by some grand strategic thinking from the top. It is driven by the internal needs of lower level politicians to be seen by their electorates as tough. At these lower levels of the political hierarchy the politicians aren't concerned with grand plans, and national/international effects, they are responding to the political imperative to avoid being unfairly painted as weak. The guys at the top, know this is a foolishly risky course to be taking. But the internal political risk of their not going along is too great, so they go along with it. In any case if Obama were to say no, the congress would very publically override him, and he'd be finished politically. Our country is like a person with a mental obsession. In our lucid moments we know that our compulsion is unhealthy and irrational, but we just can't resist it, must go along with it.

This is what collapse looks like

Doctors in America are harboring an embarrassing secret:
Many of them are going broke.

This quiet reality, which is spreading nationwide, is claiming a wide range of casualties, including family physicians, cardiologists and oncologists. Industry watchers say the trend is worrisome. Half of all doctors in the nation operate a private practice. So if a cash crunch forces the death of an independent practice, it robs a community of a vital health care resource.

This is what collapse looks like

Not sure I agree. Maybe it's what non-socialized medicine looks like?

Starting in 2011 and for the next 18 yrs boomers will hit 65 at the rate of 10K per day.It'll be interesting the political ramification of medicare cutbacks I think the politicians waited to long on the clock to do cut backs without looking for work themselves.

This phenomenon doesn't require "collapse", at least as that word is often used on TOD. If the medical sector goes on doubling in size every seven to ten years, it will soon exceed the GDP. Energy growth is not the only exponential that can't go on forever. Something must give. Something would need to give even with modest (business as used to be usual) economic growth.

I suppose the triage isn't going to look pretty since it will no doubt be based largely on political connectedness. OTOH, there's a vast wad of expensive, over-frequent or even thoroughly unnecessary "testing", "screening", "drugging", and "treatment" that no one outside the industry would miss if it simply disappeared by tomorrow morning. Good riddance. In addition, there's another vast wad of counterproductive "treatment" which consumes immensely more life to provide than it ever gives back. It would not be a tremendous loss either. IOW, in reality we probably can't afford and don't genuinely need a good many of these doctors.

"Health care" is indeed collapsing. But no worries, it's just going to be a little bit painful in the short run for the decrepit and disabled.

Healthy young kids and adults, the people to which the future belongs and who will find ways to survive in a broken world, will do just fine, provided we don't sacrifice them in war so that the elderly can stay on vents and the obese on cpap.

From what I've read insurance actuaries state that 1 in 4 forty yr olds won't make it to age 60.But I'd have to say that those 40 yr olds now the rate is going to increase more than the one in four just from the fat and lack of fitness level.

That seems high by a factor of more than 20.

I stand corrected but Diabetes and lack of fitness http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/diabetes-statistics/

But that's not just the old or middle aged. Diabetes is growing fastest among the young, including children.

Although, given the generous abundance of shameless self-promotion, and of scaring and shilling people into making donations, at that linked page, I'm going to take their numbers with a grain or two of salt. Especially the vaporware "undiagnosed cases" number - sure, whatever, just send money. More of a vast overbloated self-serving "medical" establishment we'd be better off to shrink substantially.

Well, as I said, there's a problem of unsustainability even on a BAU path. However: on the flip side, and as my grandmother liked to say, you won't stay young forever.

I really don't know how many people have tp pay their own way through med school, but doctors bring most of their troubles on themselves if they can't make a living.

My personal physician will not accept insurance in any form, except medicare and medicaid.Since he knows I am not working and looking after my Daddy full time, he discounts his normal fee from thirty five or forty bucks to thirty for me.I didn't even know he was doing that until somebody else told me he charged them thirty five, ans somebody else said he charges them forty.

His wife is his nurse and bookkeeper.They practice downstairs, and live up on a nice little hobby farm, which would be a weekend getaway place for most of his former professional colleagues from the big city.

He prescribes generics nearly every time.You get as long as you need, I've had a full hour sometimes with him, but he sees typically two to three patients an hour, and thus averages around a hundred dollars an hour, or 4000 a week or two hundred a year if he wants to work the full forty.He makes house calls on Fridays.He drives a bright red fairly new 4x4 Chevy pickup rather than a Porsche-justified for a man who needs to get there on slick mountain roads.

He tells me his business model is "bullet proof" and that no sane man should feel the need to net over a hundred fifty grand, which I'm sure he and his wife net easily.He is the best beloved man for many miles around.

He could raise his rate to the sixty five the next cheapest MD around charges, and he would still be busy without accepting insurance.

Our problem-one of our problems anyway-is that we all want something for nothing-like medical care paid for by somebody else.

My dentist freely admits that although he does the same exact work for insured patients and gets paid considerably less for the contracted business, that he is a sob out to make money , and will not discount to the insurance company rate for me, even though I pay cash on the spot-folding green cash-at every visit.

He is gentle, competent, and quick, but I personally wouldn't lose five seconds sleep if he got killed in a car wreck tomorrow.

On the other hand, I go a couple of miles out of my way to drop my MD off a few bunches of my own grapes or a small basket of tree ripened peaches or whatever is in season.

"doctors bring most of their troubles on themselves if they can't make a living"

Always blame the victim.
She had it coming. She brought it on herself. She was asking for it.

(The reality is often way more complicated than the rosy rural picture you paint above with that broad poetic brush.)

I agree the picture is infinitely more complicated than I drew it, but I deliberately drew it that way to make my point stand out in contrast to the bau reality of American medicine.

The comparison to rape is entirely inappropriate.Doctors are the victims of lawyers on occasion, but seldom ever of anybody else.They are certainly the best educated class of people of any real size in the United States, bar none, taken as a professional group.An engineer or lawyer for instance can get his professional license much faster and easier and far cheaper.

Their own professional mission is to advise others on managing the most critical aspect of their lives- their health.

I believe I would just about as soon trust my deceased great Granny to look after me as an MD who can't manage his money.She was fairly handy at patching people up who suffered from accidents such as cutting a toe or two off by accident with an axe or delivering a baby.

My doctor is incidentally a man who gave up a high status of the big city rat race for three specific reasons;one, his first wife had cancer, and he wanted to both work and make her life as pleasant as possible;two, he wanted to practice in what he sees as a truly professional manner, without his decisions being second guessed and blocked by bean counters and their ilk; and three , he knows the good life when he sees it.his own words, paraphrased.

I used to live in a camper in a nice private oak wood(mine!) surrounded by wildlife for months at a time between short stints as a power plant mechanic or coming home to help a few weeks on the farm in a busy season.

Lots of people laughed at me, but the laughter usually tapered off self consciously when I would point out that I was doing for four months at a stretch what they were able to do for two weeks a year-to suit myself.

Any MD who can't manage his money *as an individual* is in need of help from some sort of shrink.

From the article,

Small business 101: A private practice is like a small business. "The only thing different is that a third party, and not the customer, is paying for the service," said Lion. "Many times I shake my head," he said. "Doctors are trained in medicine but not how to run a business." His biggest challenge is getting doctors to realize where and how their profits are leaking.

"On average, there's a 10% to 15% profit leak in a private practice," he said. Much of that is tied to money owed to the practice by patients or insurers. "This is also why they are seeing a cash crunch."

This is why the Canadian Medicare system works better for the doctors than the doctors would like to admit. Many of them are complete idiots when it comes to business, but in Canada they can easily make a go of it. They do a bunch of operations, send their bills to the government, and the government sends them a cheque back.

I know a cardiologist who works only to finance his mountain climbing and skiing habit. Despite his stellar qualifications, he only works the ER a few days a month. He has been running expensive expeditions for a club which I am treasurer of. He has been spending tens of thousands of dollars on helicopters, lodges, and climbing equipment, and he can't figure out how to get his receipts or put them in an Excel spreadsheet so I can refund his expenses. He will book a mountain lodge for tens of thousands of dollars, and then forget to tell me to send a cheque to pay for it.

Under Canadian Medicare, it's not really a problem. All he has to do is save the patient's life or pronounce him dead, and the hospital staff sends the bill to the government. He only has to cash the government cheques.

Wow...and why, again, can't U.S. Americans emulate the Canadian healthcare system?

Oh, yea...a lot of voters are misinformed and locked into an ideology that serves the interests of the insurance companies...

We can't be like those stink'n commie Canuks! We are exceptional!

"The Woodlands was one of the nation’s first sustainable communities, with a current total of over 6,000 acres of green space protected in 121 parks, seven golf courses, and plentiful greenbelts and forest preserves..."

Thank you! Had a good belly laugh on that one! Like one of the follow up posts said, where does their food come from? And electric, and gas and oil, and all the materials used to build the houses and pour the concrete, and...There is NOTHING sustainable about a 28k acre development.

Harper warns pipeline hearings could be 'hijacked'
Northern Gateway seeks to carry oilsands crude to West Coast

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government will look into measures to prevent the approval process for energy projects from being "hijacked" by opponents of the developments.

Harper told journalists Friday he's heard concerns expressed about the use of foreign money by interveners opposed to an oilsands pipeline proposed for northern B.C. by Calgary-based Enbridge.

The prime minister said the government is prepared to review how public consultations are conducted to ensure they don’t get overloaded for the purpose of slowing down the process.

See: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/01/06/harper-northern-gateway...

Sure, let's weed-out all those pesky no-good-doers funded by "foreign money". Good God, what a mess.

[No] Cheers,

I have been intrigued for a long time by the possibility that high level nuclear wastes could be safely disposed of by injecting such wastes into old oil wells particularly well suited to the purpose.

I know somewhat more about geology than a typical layman but I have has only a single introductory course in the field decades ago.I got the first couple of years of chemistry and can follow a discussion of the basics but have no expertise in that field either.

But I have some reason to believe from what I do know that oil and gas is are often found beneath ten thousand feet or more of extremely stable geological strata that have held oil and gas in place for many millions of years, with NO INDICATION that the oil and gas would not still be there in another million years, or another five million, for that matter, unless we punch a hole down there to fetch it out, at enormous expense.

So-the first question-answers only from those actually qualified to possess an opinion , please-is this:

Would the waste be safely and permanently disposed of, insofar as Mother Nature's processes are concerned, if the wastes were injected in relatively small amounts in any given well-small enough that no chain reaction would be possible ?

The little that I know about this subject seems to indicate that the answer must be that we would indeed have permanently and safely disposed of said injected wastes, insofar as natural processes such as volcanism, plate tectonics, sea level change, erosion etc, are concerned.

The second question, ANSWERS again from those with actual relevant professional expertise, please would then be this:

Would it be possible to process this waste and perhaps mix it with other materials in such a fashion that it would be either extraordinarily difficult or actually impossible to retrieve it later by drilling a new well or reopening the old one?

It would seem to me that there are many many possible ways this could be done, given that whatever is fetched up again must be soluble in order to bring it up the well bore suspended in a liquid solvent.Any method that renders the waste so technically difficult and expensive to recover that it would obviously be easier and cheaper to manufacture new radio active materials cheaper and faster should be considered satisfactory in my opinion.

Keep in mind that only a small amount would need to be disposed of a in any given well, and that drilling wells so deep in any non nuclear future may well be will be impossible due to lack of energy and materials adequate for the job.

Comments are welcome of course, but preferably somewhat separated from the technical discussion.

The recent nuclear super cluster you -know -what in Japan shook me to the core, but so does the imminent collapse of industrial civilization.

Paradox and irony are inextricably entwined into the nature of the human beast.The atom bombs dropped on Japan, given the political reality of that day and time, almost certainly saved far more lives that they destroyed by bringing about surrender in the face of a bloody invasion.

We love to rant and rave about the ice and coal fired electricity, but without these two technological demons, nearly all of us would be DEAD, DEAD, DEAD within thirty days.

If the waste problem is truly easily solvable, nuclear might be many tens of millions, or hundreds of millions, of people's ticket to survival.

Fukishima may eventually kill let us say for a SWAG a hundred thousand people-we kill that many over and over again every few months in the endless red of tooth and claw fight for oil, a handful here, a thousand there.

The final innermost paradox is this: We must save industrial civilization in order to prevent it destroying us in it's death throes.

I believe this last observation so worded may be original and therefore my own intellectual property and hereby claim authorship of it.;-)

Feel free to quote me.


You posted some interesting questions and thoughts.

Going with the premise that, if we committed the proper long-term resources (infrastructure, education, etc) to the enterprise, nuclear fission-generated electrical power could provide some level of base load power for perhaps many hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of years (depending on the amount of power per year and whether we use breeder reactors):

I would rather see our high-level wastes stored in Yucca Mountain vice being buried somehow in depleted oil formations.


Because that used fuel 'waste' has a great deal of fuel left in it, which could be reclaimed by waste reprocessing, which would extend our fission fuel supplies.

At least some nuclear waste can already be vitrified (mixed with [boro?]silicate and melted into water-impermeable glass cubes.

As much as I am concerned about nuclear fission accident scenarios and waste streams, it seems that nuclear fission is a way to provide some level of base load electricity after the coal seams are largely depleted...to be complemented with some measures of wind and solar (PV and CSP) energy, with some biomass and perhaps geothermal, all to serve a significantly powered-down civilization of the future.

First off, we should conduct a no-kidding thorough and transparent study of our present fission power plants, and close ones that should be closed, and upgrade/fix problems with the rest to provide the proper margin of safety during their remaining service lives.

No easy answers...


OFM, A new Jan 7 DB has opened. You may wish to re-post your questions there.

OFM, A new Jan 7 DB has opened. You may wish to re-post your questions there.

Please don't. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Don't re-post your comments just to get more eyeballs. The schedule here is pretty regular. It's not a surprise when a new Drumbeat will be posted.

Also, I really don't want old debates dragged forward to new threads. If they stay in the old thread, then those who are interested can keep discussing it, while giving people who are tired of it a break.


I do not know of any schedule for new DBs to be posted...a while back its was 2-3 times per week per a shift in TOD policies, but now it is sort of but not always every day or two.

I believe it's Monday - Wednesday - Friday - Saturday